What is Enterovirus D68?
Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is one of more than 100 non-polio enteroviruses. It causes mild to severe respiratory infection.
EV-D68 was first identified in California in 1962. It is most common in babies, kids, and teenagers. This is because their immune system is weaker to enteroviruses. Children with asthma or breathing problems are at a higher risk of getting the virus. It is possible for adults to get as well. You can get the virus at any time of year. In the United States, there are more cases in the summer and fall.
What are the symptoms of EV-D68?
Mild symptoms include runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and body and muscle aches. Severe symptoms also include wheezing and trouble breathing. Contact your doctor if symptoms get worse or breathing becomes forced.
How does EV-D68 spread?
The virus is spread through body fluids, such as saliva, spit, and nasal mucus. You can get it from an infected person when they cough or sneeze. You also can get it from infected germs on a surface.
How is EV-D68 diagnosed?
If you have symptoms, your doctor may order some labs. They may test samples from your nose or throat, and/or take some blood. These tests will show if you have a virus and respiratory infection. However, the labs may not be able to tell if it specifically EV-D68. If your symptoms are mild, your doctor may not order any labs at all.
If there is an outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may get involved. Their tests can determine the type of enterovirus. Health departments may contact the CDC for further testing. The CDC recommends that doctors only consider EV-D68 testing for patients with rare cases. These include severe respiratory illness and when the cause is unclear or unusual.
What are the treatments for EV-D68?
There is no specific treatment for EV-D68 since it is a viral infection. The virus will go away on its own with rest. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and the best way to manage them. Some people with severe respiratory illness may need to stay in the hospital. They may require medicine through an IV and breathing treatments.
Path to improved health
There are no vaccines to prevent EV-D68 infections. You can help protect your family from EV-D68 by following these steps. They will help you stay healthy and keep from spreading the virus if you have it.
- Wash your hands throughout the day with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.
- Avoid close contact with others, such as kissing and hugging, when you are sick. Avoid sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze. Use a tissue or shirtsleeve, not your hands.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces, including toys and doorknobs.
- Stay home when you are sick.
Children with asthma have a higher risk for severe symptoms from EV-D68 and other respiratory illnesses. The CDC recommends the following guidance to parents who have kids with asthma. These steps help to manage their asthma during enterovirus season, which is summer and fall.
- Review and update your child’s asthma action plan with their doctor.
- Have your child take the prescribed asthma medicines as directed. These include long-term control medicine(s).
- Be sure to keep your child’s asthma reliever medicine with you.
- Have everyone in your family get a flu vaccine when available each year.
- Inform your child’s caregiver and/or teacher of their condition. Make sure they know how to help your child if they have an asthma attack.
- Watch your child for new or worsening asthma symptoms. Follow the steps of their asthma action plan. If the symptoms continue, call your child’s doctor right away.
Things to consider
Small numbers of EV-D68 have been reported regularly to the CDC since 1987. However, in 2014 the number of people reported with confirmed EV-D68 was much greater than previous years. The CDC cannot predict when EV-D68 may be more widespread. This is because a mix of enteroviruses circulates each year, and the mix changes from year to year.
When to see the doctor
Contact your doctor if you or your child has severe symptoms that may be caused by EV-D68. If your child has asthma, you should regularly review and update an asthma action plan with their doctor.
Questions to ask your doctor
- How do I know if my child or I have EV-D68?
- What types of treatment help reduce symptoms of EV-D68?
- How long does it take for EV-D68?
- What can I do to protect my family from getting EV-D68 or another enterovirus?
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.