An outbreak of an uncommon virus, enterovirus-D68, has made children in 43 states and the District of Columbia ill and has left some hospitalized, according to NBC News. Children with asthma are particularly affected.
Here are key things to know about enterovirus-D68 from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.
- From mid-August through the beginning of October, there have been close to 600 confirmed cases of respiratory illness caused by enterovirus-D68. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not know how many cases occur each year in the United States because health-care officials are not required to report them.
- Enterovirus-D68 is thought to be uncommon, and less is known about it than other of the more than 100 kinds of enteroviruses. In all, enteroviruses cause about 10 to 15 million infections each year in the United States.
- Enterovirus infections occur more often in the summer and fall. Enterovirus-D68 infections will probably decline later in the fall.
- Infants, children and teenagers are more likely to become infected. That is probably because they do not have immunity from previous exposures to the virus.
- Among the cases in Missouri and Illinois, children with asthma seemed to have a higher risk for severe respiratory illness.
- To protect yourself from enteroviruses, wash your hands often, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, do not share cups or utensils with people who are sick, avoid kissing or hugging those who are sick and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, including toys and door knobs.
- Enterovirus-D68 appears to be spread the same way other respiratory infections are spread, through saliva and mucus when someone sneezes or touches something. The new school year is likely helping the virus to be transmitted.
- It can cause from mild to severe respiratory illness.
- Symptoms include fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing and body and muscle aches. Most of the children who got very ill had wheezing and difficulty breathing.
- There is no vaccine.
- There is also no specific treatment and no antiviral medications. For mild respiratory illness, you can take over-the-counter medications to help allieve pain and fever. Children should not take aspirin.
- If you have asthma, make sure to take your prescribed medications. If you develop new or worsened symptoms and they do not go away, call your doctor.
- Enterovirus-D68 was first identified in California in 1962 and since then clusters have appeared in Asia, Europe and the United States.