A new virus sweeping through the Midwest — and now appearing in the northeast including New York state — has parents concerned and health officials on alert.
The virus, known as Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), has hit children particularly hard, sickening hundreds. EV-D68 is believed to be associated with the common cold, but symptoms can quickly escalate, particularly in children who have pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma.
No deaths have been reported, but a number of children have required hospitalization.
First detected in 1962, the virus is relatively rare, and as a result hasn’t been studied much.
“The virus likely spreads from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches contaminated surfaces,” according to an advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Symptoms are similar to those of a really bad cold, and for most people, the virus will cause mild respiratory illness.
There is currently no vaccine or specific treatment for EV-D68. According to the CDC, health care providers should consider EV-D68 as a possible cause of acute, unexplained severe respiratory illness. CDC is monitoring this situation closely and helping states with testing of specimens.
With cold and flu season now starting, it’s a good idea to remind children of steps to take to avoid spreading any virus. The CDC offers the following tips for parents and children:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid kissing, hugging or sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick
- Stay home when feeling sick, and consult your health care provider if you have concerns about your child’s symptoms