What Parents Should Know About Enterovirus D68

sick childMadison, Wisconsin - Parents have been seeing a lot in the news this week about Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), the virus that has been causing respiratory illness in several states primarily among children, and even hospitalization among kids with severe symptoms. What symptoms should parents look for? And what can parents do to help prevent infection?


Nasia Safdar, MD, a UW Health infectious disease specialist and UW Hospital medical director of infection control, answers some common questions:


Q. What are enteroviruses? Why is this one special?


A. Enteroviruses are common viruses that can cause a number of different viral illnesses, colds, diarrhea, meningitis, etc. This particular one is not seen very often and is associated with prominent respiratory issues – breathing fast and wheezing – that is not common with the typical cold illness.


Q. Since kids with asthma and other respiratory issues seem to be more susceptible to Enterovirus 68, can parents of kids with these issues take any preventive measures?


A. Hand hygiene (frequent hand washing) is important, as is avoiding exposure to others who are sick. Exposure to smoke makes everything worse.


Q. Does the flu shot protect against Enterovirus 68?


The flu shot protects against the flu. EV68 is not the flu virus. But it's still a good idea to get the flu shot as soon as it becomes available. (Call your child's UW Health clinic to schedule an appointment, or if you have MyChart, you may schedule online.)


Q. What symptoms should parents look for, and when should they see a doctor or seek emergency care?


A. Parents should look for cold-like symptoms. Seek care when your child is having breathing difficulty, or is breathing fast, not getting air, or wheezing.


Additional Resources


You can learn more about the enterovirus through the following resources:

Date Published: 09/10/2014

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