As reported on many national news outlets, there has been an outbreak of
Enterovirus D68 or EV-D68 that has caused a significant number of children
to become ill. Some children have required treatment in the hospital and,
in certain instances, intensive care units. According to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus has been reported in several states, including Louisiana.
When illnesses make headlines, it is important to focus on the areas we
can control to prevent getting sick and respond appropriately should you
or a loved one become seriously ill.
Who is at risk?
Anyone can become infected, but infants, children and teenagers are more
likely to get infected and become sick.
Why is this virus getting so much attention?
One of the reasons this virus is so concerning is that it can spread and
exhibit symptoms like the common cold. But for some children, it progresses
very rapidly to severe difficulty in breathing. The majority of children
experiencing severe illness are those with underlying respiratory illness,
such as asthma or a history of wheezing, but not all. Interestingly, very
few of the children hospitalized with severe respiratory symptoms had fevers.
What are the symptoms?
Most people who become infected do not get sick or may only have symptoms
of mild illness such as:
- Runny nose, sneezing, cough
- Skin rash
- Mouth blisters
- Body and muscle aches.
Children who have gotten very ill experienced difficulty breathing and
some wheezing. Many of the children who have been hospitalized had asthma
or a history of wheezing.
What is the treatment?
While there is no specific treatment or antiviral medication available
at this time for EV-D68, check with your health care provider for options
that may be available to help treat your specific symptoms.
How can I protect my family?
Establish and practice excellent infection control practices. The best
ways to protect yourself include:
- Frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds with warm, soapy water
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoiding kissing, hugging and sharing cups or eating utensils with others
- Disinfecting frequently touched surfaces such as toys, doorknobs and appliance handles
- Boosting your immune system by eating nutritious meals and snacks, getting
regular exercise and getting a good night’s sleep
- Staying home if you are sick.
For more information talk to your health care provider or visit
www.cdc.gov. If you need a physician, click to learn more about North Oaks Physician
primary care physicians and
infectious disease clinic.