Since mid-August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded more than 80 cases of infections involving the Enterovirus D68 across six different states. Now EV-D68 has crossed borders, infecting children as well in the Northeast, with New York state confirming over 12 cases.

Enteroviruses are actually common in general but the EV-D68 is one of the rarer strains around. Unfortunately, it's this rare strain making its rounds in the United States, sending children to hospitals with flu-like symptoms.

There's no cure for it and children can't be vaccinated against EV-D68. However, it's not as scary as it sounds in that many can recover without special treatment. It should resolve itself within the week and should no more be difficult to deal with than the common cold or the flu. However, when children start having trouble breathing, they should be immediately taken to the hospital to prevent further complications.

Like other enteroviruses, EV-D68 most commonly spreads between summer and fall. But because it manifests right in the middle of flu season and shares symptoms with the common cold, it can be very difficult for parents to identify whether or not their children caught EV-D68.

So far, observed EV-D68 infections show symptoms for upper respiratory illnesses so the CDC has advised clinicians all over the country to watch out for increases in cases of severe respiratory illness.

Infants, children, and teenagers make up most of the reported cases of EV-D68 because it's possible they have not developed the necessary antibodies needed to combat the infection. However, infections may also be more rampant in younger people because they aren't as strict with good hygiene practices, which is what doctors are recommending to prevent EV-D68 from taking hold.

Parents with asthmatic children must also be doubly vigilant because children with histories of asthma or wheezing are turning out to be more susceptible to EV-D68.

To avoid an EV-D68 infection, parents should teach their children to wash their hands often for 20 seconds using soap and water. Transmission occurs when bodily fluids from an infected person comes in contact with another, mostly by touching an object that an infected person first touched and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. This is why proper hand-washing is essential and frequently used surfaces must be disinfected frequently.

Aside from the EV-D68, over 100 different types of enteroviruses exist, and these cause around 15 million people to get sick each year.

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.