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Enterovirus D68

Published on . Last modified on December 12, 2014

Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is one of many non-polio enteroviruses.  This virus was first identified in California in 1962, but it has not been commonly reported in the United States until recently.  In the United States, people are more likely to get infected with enteroviruses in the summer and fall.  EV-D68 infections are thought to occur less commonly than infections with other enteroviruses.  However, health officials do not know how many infections and deaths from EV-D68 occur each year in the United States.  Healthcare professionals are not required to report this information to health departments.

Signs and Symptoms

EV-D68 can cause mild to severe respiratory illness:

  • Mild symptoms may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches.
  • Among children who got very ill with EV-D68 infection this year in the Midwest, most had difficulty breathing, and some had wheezing.  Many of these children had asthma or a history of wheezing.

Respiratory illnesses can be caused by many different viruses and have similar symptoms. Not all respiratory illnesses occurring now are due to EV-D68. Anyone with respiratory illness should contact their doctor if they are having difficulty breathing, or if their symptoms are getting worse.

Transmission (How it Spreads)

Since EV-D68 causes respiratory illness, the virus can be found in an infected person’s respiratory secretions, such as saliva, nasal mucus, or sputum. EV-D68 likely spreads from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches contaminated surfaces.

Testing and Treatment

enterovirusEV-D68 can only be diagnosed by doing specific lab tests on specimens from a person’s nose and throat.  Many hospitals and some doctor’s offices can test ill patients to see if they have enterovirus infection. However, most cannot do specific testing to determine the type of enterovirus, like EV-D68.  Health officials recommend that clinicians only consider EV-D68 testing for patients with severe respiratory illness and when the cause is unclear.

There is no specific treatment for people with respiratory illness caused by EV-D68.  There are no antiviral medications currently available for people who become infected with EV-D68.  For mild respiratory illness, you can help relieve symptoms by taking over-the-counter medications for pain and fever.  Aspirin should not be given to children.  Some people with severe respiratory illness may need to be hospitalized. 

Prevention

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.  When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick.  You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.  It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
  • Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.  If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.  Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.  Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. 

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