Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is a respiratory illness that infants, kids and teens are especially susceptible to contracting. In mild cases, the virus's effects can mimic those of a mild cold. In serious cases, symptoms like wheezing and difficulty breathing may require hospitalization.
Stanley E. Grogg, DO, an osteopathic pediatrician from Tulsa, Oklahoma, explains that because of the virus's potential seriousness, parents need to be vigilant if children develop symptoms. "If you are seeing these symptoms in your kids," he notes, "please get them to their physician as quickly as possible. This is especially important in children with asthma as they already have weakened respiratory systems."
Coughing, Congestion, and Breathing Difficulties
Dr. Grogg explains that common symptoms include:
Cough and respiratory congestion that begins like a common cold
Runny nose, sneezing, body aches and fever
Difficulty breathing or wheezing. These symptoms are more likely for kids with a history of asthma.
Keeping Your Family Healthy
Dr. Grogg recommends doing the following to stay well and prevent the spread of the virus:
Make sure everyone in the family, adults and kids alike, washes their hands frequently and well. Hands should be washed for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap.
Keep surfaces disinfected, especially toys that have been played with by several children.
Avoid close contact with those who might be ill. This includes hugging, kissing, shaking hands, and sharing cups and utensils.
If children are sick, keep them at home and monitor them closely.
Be sure to keep up on vaccinations, especially the flu vaccine. Currently, there is no vaccine for EV-D68.
Respiratory illnesses can be more serious for kids with asthma. If your child has asthma, cold and flu season is a good reminder to be sure teachers and caregivers are aware.