Many of our parents are interested in knowing more about a virus that has been reported on in the news media recently – Enterovirus D68. The Centers for disease Control (CDC) website has excellent and easy to read information about the virus and the illness it causes. I will provide you with a brief summary.
Enterovirus, as the name implies, is a virus. We have no cure at this time for an infection, we have no vaccine or medicine to prevent an infection. Antibiotics, such as amoxicillin, do nothing to treat or prevent enterovirus infection and can, in fact, cause harm without benefit.
The symptoms of enterovirus infection are “cold” symptoms, fever, runny nose, cough, sneezing, skin rash, achiness and mouth blisters. Some people will get all of these symptoms, some people will get all of these symptoms, some people will only get a few of these symptoms. Most people who are infected with the virus do not even get sick or only have a very mild illness.
Enterovirus can be found in an infected person’s stool, saliva, sputum and nasal mucous. The virus can be spread for several weeks, long after symptoms have resolved. It is spread by close contact such as shaking hands, touching surfaces that have the virus on it, changing diapers of an infected person or drinking contaminated water. Frequent good hand washing is there for very helpful in preventing spread of the virus.
This virus can occur anytime of the year but seems to occur most frequently in summer and fall. As you are aware from watching the news, we have had more cases than usual this year. States with confirmed cases so fare include Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky and Missouri. As of September 12th of this year, 97 cases have been confirmed.
Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City tested 22 patients for the virus who had symptoms similar to D69 and 19 were positive. University of Chicago tested 14 specimens and 11 were positive. Age ranges at the two hospitals were from 6 weeks of age through 16 years of age. Sixty-eight percent of the patient’s at Children’s Mercy who had serious illness due to D68 had previous lung disease such as asthma, and 73% at University of Chicago. With the virus being so common and other viruses also producing similar symptoms, visits to the doctor’s office or emergency room are needed if there is difficulty breathing or if symptoms seem to be worsening instead of improving. There is no specific treatment for people with Enterovirus D68. For mild respiratory illness, you can help relieve symptoms by taking over the counter medicine for pain and fever. Asprin should not be given to children. Some people with severe illness may need to be hospitalized.
As always, if you have questions, please make sure you call the office. Also, don’t forget – it is time for flu shots!