What is enterovirus D68?
Enterovirus D68, or EV-D68, is one of more than 60 types of enterovirus, which commonly cause cold-like symptoms in people. Some 10 to 15 million enterovirus infections occur annually in the United States, with most infections occurring in summer and fall when children return to school.
EV-D68 infections can cause mild symptoms (such as fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches) to severe respiratory illness (such as wheezing and difficulty breathing), or it can cause no symptoms at all.
Who’s most at risk?
Infants, children and teenagers are more likely to contract an enterovirus than are adults. Most of these infections are mild, but some patients with more severe infections may need to be hospitalized. Anyone experiencing severe illness or difficulty breathing should talk with his or her health care provider for evaluation, and parents of children who show any sign of trouble breathing should contact their child’s health care provider immediately.
What’s the best way to help prevent infection?
- Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds;
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
- Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick, or when you are sick;
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or shirt sleeve, not your hands;
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick; and
- Stay home when you are sick and keep your children home from school.
There are no vaccines for preventing EV-D68 infections.
Children with asthma are at risk for severe symptoms from EV-D68 as well as other respiratory illnesses. They should follow CDC’s guidance to maintain control of their illness during this time:
- Discuss and update your asthma action plan with your primary care provider;
- Take your prescribed asthma medications as directed, especially long term control medication(s);
- Be sure to keep your reliever medication with you;
- Get a flu vaccine when available;
- If you develop new or worsening asthma symptoms, follow the steps of your asthma action plan. If your symptoms do not go away, call your doctor right away;
- Parents should make sure the child’s caregiver and/or teacher is aware of his/her condition, and that they know how to help if the child experiences any symptoms related to asthma.
How do you get EV-D68?
Since EV-D68 causes respiratory illness, the virus can be found in an infected person’s respiratory secretions, such as saliva, nasal mucus, or sputum.
The virus likely spreads from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches a surface that is then touched by others.
How is it treated?
Standard treatment for respiratory illness is provided, which depends on the severity of symptoms. Patients should talk with their doctor about the best way to control symptoms. Some people with severe respiratory illness caused by EV-D68 may need to be hospitalized and receive intensive supportive therapy. No antiviral medications are currently available for people who have EV-D68. A positive test for EV-D68 does not determine the type of treatment a patient receives.
How do you diagnose it?
EV-D68 can only be diagnosed by doing specific lab tests on specimens from a person’s nose and throat. Many hospitals and some doctor’s offices can test sick patients to see if they have enterovirus infection. However, most cannot do specific testing to determine the type of enterovirus, like EV-D68. CDC and some state health departments can do this sort of testing.
It’s important to note that diagnosing EV-D68 does NOT determine the type of treatment a patient would receive.
Are there cases in Tennessee?
Yes. On October 8, 2014, the Tennessee Department of Health received confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of two cases of enterovirus D68 in Tennessee. One patient resides in West Tennessee and the other in East Tennessee. The East Tennessee patient does not live in Knox County. Both of these cases were young children who were hospitalized, but they are home now and doing well.