Culture & Entertainment

What you need to know about enterovirus EV-D68

By: Robin Stevenson
Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

What you need to know about enterovirus EV-D68

By: Robin Stevenson
6218761464_e849fbc222_b Nothing puts a parent on high alert like headline news of a virus that has the potential to put their child in the hospital. There have been confirmed cases of enterovirus D68 in Alberta and British Columbia, but before you start worrying about every sniffle and cough emitted by your child, here are the most common questions regarding this virus. What is an Enterovirus? Enteroviruses are a group of viruses that can cause a range of symptoms. They generally circulate in the summer and fall (yes, just in time for school) according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Infections with enteroviruses are very common and most people have mild symptoms such as coughing and sneezing. This particular strain—enterovirus D68 (EV-D68)— causes respiratory illness. What are the symptoms? Symptoms are similar to a cold-like illness (runny nose, cough, fever, muscle and body aches). In some children, the virus causes more severe symptoms such as wheezing and trouble breathing, issues which may require hospitalization. Children with asthma or a history of wheezing appear to be at a higher risk for severe respiratory illness. If your child is showing signs of distress such as laboured and fast breathing or in drawing of the chest, The Hospital For Sick Children in Toronto encourages parents to take their child to the closest emergency department so symptoms can be evaluated and treatment started if needed. How is it spread? Much like the common cold, enteroviruses are spread by coughing or sneezing, contact with an infected person or by touching a contaminated surface. The best way to help prevent the spread of the virus is by encouraging kids to cough or sneeze into their arm, not their hands, use and dispose of tissues and wash hands regularly with soap and water (or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer). Public health units also recommend families keep ill children home from school or childcare. Is there a treatment? There is no vaccine or antiviral medication for EV-D68. Most people can manage mild symptoms with over-the-counter medications to help relieve pain and reduce fever.  Photo courtesy Kourtlyn Lott via Flickr  
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What you need to know about enterovirus EV-D68

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