As reported by this related Inquisitr article, hundreds of children across 10 states are being hospitalized, many of them in intensive care, with a serious respiratory illness that scientists believe is being caused by enterovirus D68, or EV-D68. Here’s what you, as a parent, need to know about the virus and how to protect your kids.
Entroviruses aren’t unusual – as a matter of fact, they are the cause of what most people think of as a bad summer cold – and their season often hits its peak in September. However, this enterovirus is an uncommon type, with fewer than 100 cases reported since it was identified in the 1960s, according to CNN. There have been isolated outbreaks in several areas, including the United States, Asia, and the Netherlands over the years. However, health officials are concerned that the virus is causing so many hospitalizations this year.
“It’s the one that we don’t know as much about as we would like,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
So what can you do to protect your children from the rapidly spreading virus outbreak?
The most important protection is to practice good hygiene. Enterovirus-D68 is spread like the common cold, and it is no surprise that this outbreak occurred soon after school started back, a time when children are coming in more frequent contact with other kids. To prevent the spread of infection, encourage your kids to wash their hands frequently and do the same yourself.
According to CBS News, the virus is hardy — it can last for quite a while on surfaces, and has an incubation period of up to a week. To discourage the virus from spreading, disinfect communal surfaces such as door knobs, tables, and refrigerator handles often, and keep hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes with you to use when you are in public.
Know the symptoms of enterovirus-D68. The most common symptom is respiratory distress, but Dr. Holly Phillips discusses the most important symptoms to watch for in this interview with”CBS This Morning.”
This doesn’t mean you should panic if you child gets a cold — they are common this time of year. However, if your child shows signs of severe respiratory distress, develops a rash, stomach ache, or high fever, get him or her to the doctor right away. While there is no specific treatment or vaccine for the D68 enterovirus, doctors can admit children to the hospital and provide supportive care, such as oxygen, IV fluids, and drugs to improve respiratory symptoms until the virus runs its course.
[Photo courtesy of WTVR]