Children all over this country are getting sick from enterovirus. It's hitting children with respiratory illnesses especially hard.
It is nothing new that children get upper respiratory infections, but the strength with which this is affecting children is disturbing.
As of October 1, 2014 it has been confirmed that 500 children in 42 states have respiratory illnesses caused by enterovirus.
Here are the facts surrounding enterovirus that parents need to know.
1) History of enterovirus
Enterovirus, or EV-D68, is not new. It was identified in the United States back in 1962 but then laid dormant for over 30 years. Then starting in 2008, small clusters of cases started popping up.
Ranging from four to 30 cases, each outbreak seemed to be contained and none of them had the vengeance of the 2014 outbreak of enterovirus.
2) Who is at risk?
Mary Anne Jackson, the director of infectious diseases at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics said that the hospital has seen hundreds of children hospitalized with enterovirus in hard-hit Kansas City, Missouri. She told US News and World Report that school-aged children from 4-12 years old are most at risk for contracting this disease.
“We saw our peak right after school started. It’s a good opportunity for viruses to be passed to one another,” Jackson said. “It took about two weeks to ramp up, three weeks to peak out, and now we seem to be on the downward trend.”
Enterovirus symptoms can mimic those of a common cold. They can include sore throat, runny nose, congestion and a cough. Generally, this virus does not cause a high fever, nor is it associated with pneumonia or sinus infections. These symptoms can last 7-10 days and are the worst between Day three and Day five of the illness.
The one thing that differentiates enterovirus from other respiratory infections is that it causes difficulty breathing, which takes a greater toll on children who have asthma and other respiratory challenges.
Preventing enterovirus is as easy as practicing good, old-fashioned hand-washing with soap and water. Disinfecting toys, surfaces, and phones and avoiding people who are ill are also good preventative measures.
Asthmatic children should continue taking their asthma medication as prescribed. These measures will also help to prevent common colds and influenza as well.
Children infected with enterovirus need to stay well-hydrated. Saline drops in their nostrils may also help. As long as they do not have a fever and are eating and drinking as usual, these kids can go to school. If they show difficulty breathing, parents should seek medical attention immediately.
While many children may not need to be hospitalized because of enterovirus symptoms, the disease should not be taken lightly. Knowing the facts about enterovirus, and working to avoid it, can help keep children healthy this Fall and beyond.
Yahoo.com. Web. 25 September 2014. “What parents need to know about enterovirus”.
CNN.com. Web. 1 October 2014. “Enterovirus 68 found in 4 patients who have died, including 10 year old girl.”
Reviewed October 2, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith