Some of you may have heard about this virus that has been spreading recently, primarily in the Midwest. With flu and cold season upon us, it is important that you know how you can best protect yourselves and your children.
So, what is enterovirus 68? Enteroviruses are common and cause diseases that you may have already heard about, such as hand, foot, and mouth disease. Enterovirus 68 is a certain strand that has been causing mild to severe respiratory illnesses. It is occurring more commonly in children, and those with asthma are at higher risk for more severe symptoms. These more severe cases have sometimes caused hospitalizations. Common symptoms of the virus include fever, runny nose, cough, body aches, sneezing, and sometimes, wheezing or difficulty breathing.
How can you protect yourself? Enterovirus 68 is spread by respiratory droplets. You may come into contact with these droplets if someone who is ill is coughing or sneezing near you. The best thing you can do to avoid the spread of disease is washing your hands! Also, avoid doing things that could potentially spread the virus through saliva or nasal mucus such as not covering your cough or sneeze or sharing food or drinks with someone who is ill. Make sure to disinfect your home (particularly if someone is ill) as well.
If you do come into contact with the virus, there are currently no anti-viral medications to treat this illness. However, we can evaluate you and suggest or prescribe treatments to control the symptoms like fever, cough, or runny nose. Please seek medical care as soon as possible if you or your child is experiencing wheezing or difficulty breathing. A medical professional should determine the appropriate management in this case.
If you would like further information on enterovirus 68, please contact your healthcare provider or you may also find reliable information online at cdc.gov.
Allison Gapinski, FNP-C