What do I need to know about the enterovirus?
Your child’s health and safety are of the utmost importance to us. You’ve likely heard about enterovirus D68, or EV-D68 in the news recently. Although enterovirus D68 is not a serious matter for most kids, it can be particularly problematic for children with underlying breathing issues or with a compromised immune system. As with other illnesses, including the flu, we will monitor this situation in our schools and follow district protocol for any necessary precautions.
We’ve included some information below to help you better understand the enterovirus D68. As always, please consult your family physician with any additional questions or concerns or if your child exhibits symptoms.
What parents should know about this respiratory illness:
Why so many cases now?
The typical enterovirus season runs from July through October, so we're in an enterovirus season. What’s unusual about this one is that even though the virus was discovered in 1962, it’s a virus that hasn’t widely spread through the U.S. before. Experts say that, if a virus has not widely circulated before, most people are going to be more susceptible to it.
What are the symptoms of D68 infection?
Most viral infections start out with a fever, cough, and runny nose, but D68 doesn’t seem to follow that classic pattern. Instead, kids with D68 infections have a cough and trouble breathing, sometimes with wheezing.
Who's at greatest risk?
Recent cases have been in children ages 6 months to 16 years, with most hovering around ages 4 and 5, the CDC says. And while many kids are coming down with milder symptoms, the virus seems to be hitting children with a history of breathing problems particularly hard.
How is the infection treated?
Because it’s caused by a virus, and not bacteria, antibiotics don’t help. There is no vaccine to prevent it and no antiviral medication to treat it, so the virus is treated with supportive care.
How do you catch it?
Enteroviruses are pretty hardy and the germs can live on surfaces for hours. The “entero” part of their name means the viruses can survive stomach acid and infect the gut, as opposed to their cousins, the rhinoviruses, which can’t. The virus can be found in saliva, nasal mucus, or sputum, according to the CDC. Touching a contaminated surface and then rubbing your nose or eyes is the usual way someone catches it. You can also get it from close person-to-person contact.
How can we protect ourselves?
Protect yourself with good hand-washing habits. Tell kids to cover their mouth with a tissue when they cough and then promptly discard the tissue in the trash. If no tissue is handy, teach them to cough into the crook of their elbow or upper sleeve instead of their hand.
Common disinfectants and detergents will kill enteroviruses, so clean frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs and toys regularly.