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Enterovirus D68: What Parents Need to Know

kids looking at a book together in school

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Perhaps by now you've heard of Enterovirus EV-D68. Clusters of this viral respiratory illness have shown up in children in some states, including one​​ case in Wisconsin recently confirmed by the CDC.

Dr. Brian Ch​ow​, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Marshfield Clinic, breaks down what parents need to know about EV-D68.

What is EV-D68?

Enteroviruses, which often cause cold-like symptoms or gastrointestinal issues, are quite common. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reports about 10 to 15 million infections in the U.S. each year caused by 100-plus types of enteroviruses. EV-D68 is a rarely seen strain that causes mild to severe respiratory illness.

What to watch for​:

EV-D68 is appearing primarily as a respiratory illness, and it may progress and cause serious issues such as coughing, difficulty breathing and wheezing. Parents need to be particularly aware if their child begins wheezing, which indicates trouble breathing.

Seek medical care:

When wheezing is present. If your child is turning blue or cannot breathe, call 911 or take them immediately to the Emergency Department.

How it's treated

Because it's a virus, EV-D68 is not treated with medications and no vaccine exists. With that said, most enterovirus illnesses are mild and health care providers will treat the symptoms to keep patients as comfortable as possible. Children with asthma or other respiratory illness are at most risk for developing serious illness.

​How to prevent it: 

EV-D68 is spread through close contact with someone who is ill, so it's important your children practice good hand hygiene to reduce the spread of the virus. That means they need to wash their hands with soap and water often and/or use alcohol-based hand rubs.

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