Enteroviruses are very common viruses, causing up to 10-15 million infections in the US every year. Most people infected with enteroviruses do not become ill or have only mild symptoms. The Enterovirus D68 strain can cause serious illness in some children, however, especially those with asthma.
Enterovirus symptoms are similar to the common cold, and include fever, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and muscle aches. While most cases of illness are mild, some people can become seriously ill and have complications such as paralysis, meningitis or encephalitis. Children (newborns through teenagers) are most likely to be infected and become sick. Infants, children with asthma, or children with breathing difficulties have a greater chance of complications.
The virus likely spreads from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches contaminated surfaces.
Treatment and Prevention
There is no specific treatment for EV-D68 infections. Typical cases only require treatment of symptoms until recovery. Some people with severe respiratory illness may require hospitalization.
Adults and children can help protect themselves from EV-D68 and other viral infections by taking the following steps:
- Stay home (or keep your children home) when ill and consult your healthcare provider.
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid kissing, hugging and sharing cups or utensils with ill people.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.