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Enterovirus: What Parents Need To Know

Enterovirus: What Parents Need To Know

Enterovirus sure does sound serious – and it can be. It's important to understand a few facts so you can be sure you are doing all you can to keep your child safe.

First, let's start with some reassuring facts:

Though it sounds new and sort of scary, "enterovirus" is actually a fairly common type of virus. Millions of people of all ages catch enteroviruses every year.

This year (2014), in August, the CDC noticed an increase in a particular type, called enterovirus-D68 (EV-D68). Some children (particularly those with asthma) got quite sick. Many required hospitalization and there were even a few deaths. But the good news is, experts believe the worst is behind us. The number of cases is declining.

Most cases of EV-D68 are mild (like a cold) and get better naturally. Some people feel like they have the flu, with body aches and fever. People with a severe case may wheeze and have trouble breathing. Children with asthma are at the highest risk for severe cases of EV-D68.

What Should Parents

Enterovirus: What Parents Need To KnowDo?

If your child has asthma, you should take some special steps to be prepared for EV-D68, just in case.

  • Update your "asthma action plan" with your child's doctor. Ask about your medication, dosage and what you should do for long-term control. Also ask about a flu vaccine.
  • Make sure your child's asthma medication is always with him/her. For babies and young kids, make sure all caregivers/teachers know what to do. For older kids, review how to use the inhaler.
  • If the asthma medication doesn't help and/or symptoms suddenly get worse, or your child has any breathing difficulties, call the doctor immediately.

Prevention for the Whole Family

Follow basic illness-prevention rules. These include:

  • If you need to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth with a tissue or your shirt sleeve – not your hands.
  • Wash your hands often, using soap and warm water. Lather for 20 seconds (hum the happy birthday song twice! That's about the right amount of time), rinse completely and dry.
  • Don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth unless you have just washed your hands.
  • Keep your distance! Don't kiss, hug or share cups/dishes/utensils with people who are or may be sick.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces at home and in your car, especially if you've been with someone who was couching or sniffling.

If Your Child Gets Sick …

There's no reason to be overly fearful of EV-D68. Keep sick children at home, resting quietly and drinking fluids. Treat symptoms as usual. But, if you notice any of the following, you should call the doctor right away:

  • Coughing or fever that you can't control
  • Your child is getting worse, not better, over time
  • Wheezing or breathing difficulties.