What is Enterovirus?
Enteroviruses are among the most common causes of viral infections in humans worldwide. They are estimated to cause between 10 and 15 million symptomatic infections in the United States every year. There are over 100 different strains of enterovirus that cause disease. Many infections are asymptomatic. Different strains cause different clinical symptoms. Among the more common manifestations are “hand-foot-mouth” disease and gastroenteritis.
These viruses remain active year round but are particularly prevalent in the summer and fall.
What are the symptoms of Enterovirus 68?
Lower respiratory symptoms are common: cough, wheezing, shortness of breath. In the confirmed cases from out of state, up to 1/3rd of children who presented with wheezing had no prior history of wheezing or asthma. Fever occurs in some but tends to be low grade. Sneezing and runny nose have been less common; this finding helps to clinically distinguish infection with this virus from that by rhinovirus, the agent responsible for the “common cold.”
Like any respiratory illness, some individuals will be impacted more significantly than others. There have been increases in patient admissions to intensive care units. The testing for this virus is not available in the primary care office nor routinely available in tertiary hospitals. There are likely many individuals whose infections did not necessitate hospitalization or admission to an ICU. The true numbers of infected individuals are not yet known.
Who is susceptible or most likely to be affected?
To date, the virus seems to have impacted infants, children and adolescents disproportionately; however, it would not be unusual for a second wave of illness to occur in adult care givers.
Does it cause permanent damage?
No. Symptoms diminish and will eventually go away as the body clears the virus and the inflammatory reaction diminishes.
How can I prevent infection?
There is no vaccine available. The most effective methods to prevent infection include:
- Washing hands
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid kissing, hugging, sharing cups or utensils with anyone who is ill
- Teach your child to cover cough by coughing into crook of elbow or hands
- Disinfect surfaces such as counters, toys, doorknobs, phones particularly if a household member is ill.
When should I call my doctor?
If your child is having difficulty breathing, develops wheezing that is new or, if known to have asthma, is not controlled with normal rescue medications, contact your caregiver for advice.
More Information visit the CDC or Cuyahoga County Board of Health.