CertMedEd – Enterovirus 68

CertMedEd – Enterovirus 68

Nationwide, THOUSANDS of patients are presenting with symptoms of suspected Enterovirus 68 (EV-68), a rare, highly infectious virus that affects children more severely than adults, especially those under five years old and those with asthma. The infection starts with cold-like symptoms and then escalates quickly to a serious condition that complicates breathing.


This outbreak was first reported this year in Colorado on Aug 18 and as of September 5th, one Colorado hospital has seen over nine hundred ER visits, and one hospital in Kansas City has seen over three hundred.  According to the CDC, the 12 states to have confirmed cases are Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.  EV-68 was first isolated in California in 1962 and it has been on a worldwide upswing in the 21st century.

Experts suspect the outbreak to become a nationwide problem. There is no cure or vaccine – parents should watch for wheezing and get immediate medical attention if they see difficulty breathing. Common infection control is also suggested, frequent hand washing for children and keeping them home if they show cold-like symptoms.


Here are five important things to know about EV-68:

1. There are many kinds of enteroviruses. They include coxsackieviruses, echoviruses, polioviruses, the hepatitis A virus and EV-68. These viruses are common and infect millions of people every year. They can infect anyone, but they’re more likely to cause illnesses in infants, children and teens who haven’t developed immunity against the virus, and people with weakened immune systems. Although EV-68 is less common, it’s not new.

2. EV-68 causes respiratory illness. The virus can be found in respiratory secretions such as saliva and mucus. It can spread from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes or touches a surface, contaminating it.

3. No antiviral medications are currently available for EV-68. But symptoms such as fever, discomfort and muscle aches can be relieved while the infection runs its course, which might take as little as a couple days. However, some people with severe respiratory illness might need to be hospitalized.

4. When to seek medical attention: Emergency rooms across the country are seeing a spike in visits because caregivers are concerned that their child might have an EV-68 infection. Most kids who are infected with EV-68 will have the following cold-like symptoms:

• runny nose

• congestion

• sneezing

• cough

• breathing difficulty

• fever

• muscle aches

These symptoms should be watched closely, but do not require emergency medical care. However, if your child has a history of asthma and develops these cold-like symptoms, it’s best to contact your doctor for advice.

5. There is no vaccine for preventing EV-68. But you can help protect yourself and your family by following these steps:

• Wash hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom or changing diapers. Make sure you clean in between the fingers and under the nails, where germs can collect.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

• Avoid kissing, hugging and sharing utensils with people who are sick.

• Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs.

• Teach kids how to cough safely – into their elbow, not their hands.


To learn more about Enterovirus 68 please click here and visit the CDC’s webpage

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