January 16, 2018

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Should I Be Worried about this Enterovirus Everyone is Talking about?

Enterovirus D68, Respiratory VirusYou’ve probably heard about a respiratory illness making its way across the Midwest. The first cases of the virus, called Enterovirus D68 or EV-D68, were recently confirmed in Minnesota. Healthcare facilities across Minnesota are also reporting an increase in respiratory infections—particularly in children.

“Enteroviruses are not a new virus, and anyone can become infected with an enterovirus. Every year we typically see somewhere from 10 to 15 million infections caused by one. This particular virus was identified in 1962, but it’s been rarely reported since then,” said Dr. Lucio Minces, an infectious disease specialist at ACMC.

What are the Symptoms of EV-D68?

Many people who have the virus may not have any or only have mild symptoms. However, infants, children and teen are more susceptible to the catching an enterovirus because they don’t have immunity from previous exposure.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, EV-D68 may feel like the common cold. You may experience nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing and the feeling of being achy or fatigued. Children with asthma or weakened immune systems may be more likely to experience severe symptoms like difficulty breathing and wheezing. If your child is having problems breathing or seems to be wheezing or if you suspect they have more than a common cold, get them to their pediatrician or family medicine doctor as soon as possible.

How Can My Family Stay Healthy?

Otherwise, Dr. Minces says, there are steps you can take to stay healthy and prevent spreading viruses like the Enterovirus D68.

  • If you or your children aren’t feeling well, stay home.
  • If someone in the family is sick, it’s a good idea to clean surfaces that may be contaminated with germs with a disinfectant. Think remotes, door handles, toys and other commonly used items.
  • Germs are very easily spread through the eyes, nose and mouth so keep your dirty hands away from your face.
  • Cover your cough and don’t forget to wash your hands. Or cough hands free, by coughing into the crook of your arm.
  • Wash, wash, wash. Use warm water and soap and scrub for at least 20 seconds.
  • Get the flu shot. Enterovirus is not influenza so while a flu shot won’t protect your child against EV-D68, it will protect your family from the flu and may also help to minimize confusion about what kind of virus your child may have.

It’s always scary when you hear news of viruses making their way across the country. But each of us can help reduce the likelihood of getting—and spreading—illnesses like the Enterovirus D68 by taking steps to stay healthy and encouraging family members to do the same.

The Centers for Disease Control has more information about Enterovirus D68 on their website.

  Jo DeBruycker, RN, MPH, ACMC Health Learning Center Jo DeBruycker is an RN at ACMC’s Health Learning Center. The Health Learning Center serves as an informational resource for ACMC patients. Our functions are designed to increase patients’ knowledge of health risks, illnesses and prevention through educational training, internet health resources, and one-on-one health counseling.