Protect Your Children from Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68)
Edited by Grimm, Sobi, Eng
Viruses Like Enterovirus D68 Can Hurt Your Children
Taking care of your children is no easy task, and viruses make it even more difficult.
Parents try and protect their children from bullies on Facebook, predators on the internet, and even abduction, but these are tangible threats, unlike viruses, which can strike from anywhere. For most parents, a child sick with a virus just requires care, and rarely medical attention. It's something people try to protect their children against, but don't always worry about. Normally they don't have to, as viruses are a part of growing and strengthening the immune system, but Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) isn't like other viruses. it specifically targets children. There's no cure for it, and no vaccine. Read on for what you need to know about the virus, and how to protect your children from it's devastating effects.
What is Enterovirus D68, and When Does it Appear?
The EV-D68 virus was first discovered in 1962, in California.
The virus is one of over 100 enteroviruses that are non-polio, but that doesn't mean it's benign. In fact, a number of cases in the United States have also reported varying degrees of paralysis in children, suspected to be caused by EV-D68. There have even been deaths as a result, which is scary for parents, because as discussed below, many of they symptoms don't present themselves as particularly serious, except in the most extreme cases.
Generally enteroviruses, like EV-D68, peak in summer and fall, with cases declining by late fall. However, there are a mix of enteroviruses that circulate every year. Different forms of these viruses can be more common in different regions, and even in peak in different years. This is one of the things that makes it so difficult to actively prevent on a vaccine level, but you can help prevent it by learning how to prevent viruses naturally and organically. Outside of natural prevention steps you can take, there's little else you can do against this monster.
What are the Symptoms to Look For in Children?
Most children will only have mild symptoms, like a cold would cause.
Infants, children, and teens are most susceptible to the effects of this virus. Unfortunately, of that group, infants and children are hurt the worst by it. This is because their bodies have not yet developed antibodies to protect them from the worst effects of viruses. Considering the severity of the EV-D68 strain, parents should have a very low threshold for seeking medical attention if a child is sick.
Part of the reason for having a low threshold of seeking medical attention is that this particular strain of enterovirus initially presents itself as any other cold or flu might. Unfortunately, symptoms can rapidly progress, and in some cases even be fatal. Children with asthma or other respiratory problems are more susceptible to the worst effects of EV-D68 than others. Being vigilant is the only way to protect your child.
These are the signs parents should look for, marked as uncommon, mild, or severe:
- 1Mild to low grade fevers are above 98.6 or 37C to less than 101F or 38.3C and usually don't necessitate a trip to the doctor. Always call your medical provider with any concerns or questions. With infants 6 months or younger, call your medical provider with temperatures of 100.4 F or 37.4 C or greater.Fever (mild):
- 2Abdominal cramping, loose stools, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and decreased appetite that may be very mild or severe or all symptoms. If your child is unable to keep liquids down, or has more than normal amount of stools, call your medical provider. Never give anti-diarrhea medicine unless the baby or child's doctor prescribes it.Gastrointestinal Distress (uncommon but mild):
- 3You child or teen may have stiff joints, and tender to touch muscles, just like with the regular flu.Muscle and body aches (mild):
- 4May have a flat or raised pale red to red rash anywhere on the body. Treat with a hydrating cream, or consult your physician for anti-itch creams or other topical solutions that contain medicines. Some of these medicines are not suitable for use on a child's sensitive skin.Rash (uncommon but mild):
- 5Nasal drainage maybe clear, white, yellow, green, or rust color, (yellow, green or rust color maybe a sign of infection and medical attention should be given).Runny nose (mild symptom):
- 6Sneezing, as with any cold or flu may be a symptom too. Did you know that when you sneeze you shoot a mist of snot 25-30 feet or more in a spray field like a shotgun blast? This is why it is important to cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sneeze into your elbow to prevent spread.Sneezing (mild):
- 7If the child feels like they can't get enough air, appear to be struggling to breathe, or have shortness of breath with minimal exertion, seek medical attention. Any sign of difficulty breathing requires prompt attention.Difficulty breathing (seek immediate medical attention):
- 8Wheezing is a sign that air the air passages in the lungs are becoming narrower. This can be caused by bronchial spasms, swelling or mucus accumulating in the airways. Consult with a doctor, or take your child to the hospital.Wheezing (seek immediate medical attention):
- 9Aseptic meningitis is an inflammation of the linings of the brain. Symptoms vary, with the most common being headache and fever. Other symptoms are; stiff neck, sensitivity to light, lethargy, bone or muscle pain, chills, sore throat, nausea and vomiting, or abdominal pain. Sometimes the child may be confused, have hallucinations, and even seizures. If you suspect this, seek medical attention.Aseptic Meningitis (uncommon - seek immediate medical attention):
- 10Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain. Usually there are mild flu-like symptoms, including headache, fever, achy muscles and joints, or weakness and fatigue. These symptoms may progress to a more serious form and include; confusion, agitation or hallucinations, seizures, paralysis, double vision, perception of smells-burned meat, sulfur, and speech or auditory problems. Infants and young children may present with the following; bulging in the soft spots (fontanels), nausea and vomiting, body stiffness, inconsolable crying, poor feeding, difficulty waking, and irritability. If you suspect encephalitis, or have questions and concerns, contact your medical provider.Encephalitis (uncommon - seek immediate medical attention):
In the event your child has severe symptoms, or you have any doubts at all, you should immediately seek professional medical advice. If you can't take them to a family doctor, take them to the hospital. Don't wait, as waiting could be fatal to your child.
How Can You Protect Your Children from EV-D68
There is no cure or vaccine for these viruses. Prevention is the only method.
Enterovirus D68 is spread through contact with an infected person's bodily fluids. Things like sneezing or coughing are the most common ways it is spreads, as the virus is expelled from the lungs with bodily fluids, but contact with an infected surface can also spread the virus. Infected surfaces include such things as doorknobs, tables, bus seats, or even shaking another person's hand. One of the reasons it is such a problem for children is that they so often touch and play, and then put their hands into their mouths, or rub tired eyes.
This means that your first line of defense against the EV-D68 virus is washing your own hands, making sure children wash their hands, not letting them put their hands in their mouth, and coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your sleeve, instead of your hand or fist. Also make sure to regularly sanitize doorknobs and other frequently used fixtures. If you take the bus or use another form of public transportation, make sure you keep your children's hands clean, or give them their own antibacterial gel or wipes to use for cleaning their hands when there is no access to a bathroom.
Specifically, you should follow these steps:
- 1One of the most common ways germs are spread is from hands that have touched something contaminated, and then touching the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose or mouth. Make sure your hands and the hands of your child are washed before touching any of these body parts.Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose:
- 2Most viruses are spread by droplets, which are formed when someone coughs, sneezes or talks. Avoid allowing anyone to speak close to your face, avoid sharing drinks, or any food with a child, as this can increase the risk of spreading the virus.Avoid any close contact, such as eating, drinking, hugging, or kissing others:
- 3Plain soap and warm water are usually effective with sanitizing hands and surfaces. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Linens, eating utensils, and dishes should not be shared without washing first. Areas that are touched frequently, such as toys, door knobs, bathrooms and tables should be cleaned and disinfected frequently, especially if someone is ill.Disinfect and clean any surfaces that are touched or used often:
- 4When you cough or sneeze into your hands, and don't wash your hands right away, it spreads when you touch an object or a person. Instead, cover your sneezes and coughs with a tissue, or your shirt sleeve. Don't use your hands. Some people even sneeze and cough into their shirts, by pulling the neck out and directing the cough or sneeze onto their chest, thus containing their germs on themselves.Don't cough or sneeze into your hands, or into the air:
- 5Staying home when sick ensures that viruses are not spread. Schools and work places are notorious for sharing germs and bringing them home to share with the whole family. Not only could you spread the virus to other people, but if you or others have weakened immune systems, it makes you or them more susceptible to the virus, and can result in more severe side effects.If you or your child are sick, stay home:
- 6Hand washing is the single best method of preventing the spread of Enterovirus D68. Singing one verse of "Happy Birthday" is approximately 20 seconds, if you're not sure, or need a game to play with your child while washing hands properly.Wash your hands or the hands of your child in soap and water for at least 20 seconds:
Remember, there are no vaccines or cures for this virus. In some cases your child may be hospitalized. Be careful, and take steps to protect your children from the effects of this virus.
Don't Children Pick Up All Sorts of Viruses Every Year?
Children pick all sorts of bugs, especially in school, but that's why you should be concerned.
It isn't that kids don't get sick. Anyone with a child in school knows just how often they do get sick. In fact, the CDC reports that school age children can get between 7 to 10 viruses each year, which is considered normal. In the case of Enterovirus D68 though, there have been more than 1,000 reported cases in Kansas alone, with numbers on the rise across North America and the world. Unlike other viruses, this one is quite serious, as the links below demonstrate.
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC) EV-D68 Outbreaks
- National Institutes of Health (NIH) EV-D68 Worldwide Increase
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC) EV-D68 Info
Categories : Health & Wellness
Recent edits by: Sobi, Grimm