From the Media
Enterovirus D68: What you should know
Enterovirus D68 has recently come to the attention of the media following publication of an MMWR article citing a cluster of severe respiratory illness caused by this virus in Missouri and Illinois. Subsequent investigation by the CDC has revealed cases in several other states and the list continues to grow as people become more aware. So, what do you need to know, what do your patients need to know and what are some helpful resources?
About the virus
Enterovirus D68 is one of more than 100 types of enterovirus; however, it is typically a less frequent cause of infection than some other types of enteroviruses. Infections occur most often in summer and fall.
- Symptoms: Typically, infections cause cold-like symptoms, such as fever, achiness, runny nose, sneezing and cough. Most people who are infected experience mild symptoms or no symptoms at all; however, a small number of people will be severely affected.
- Complications: People who struggle with this illness typically have difficulty breathing and may experience wheezing.
- Populations at increased risk of experiencing complications: As with other respiratory illnesses, people with asthma are more likely to experience complications.
- Transmission: People transmit this virus in a similar manner to influenza – coughing, sneezing or touching contaminated surfaces.
- Culture testing: Although many labs and some doctor’s offices have the capacity to test nasal or pharyngeal specimens for enteroviruses, most do not have the ability to test for the type of enterovirus. Many state health departments and the CDC can test for type-specific infections.
- Who to test: CDC is advising clinicians to only test patients presenting with severe respiratory illness in a situation in which the cause is unclear.
- Reporting: Clusters of severe respiratory illness suspected to be related to this situation should be reported to your local or state health department.
- Infection control: Follow standard precautions, and contact precautions for the duration of illness in diapered or incontinent children and to control institutional outbreaks. Reference the infection control guidelines for additional questions or guidance.
Information for parents
- Most people infected with this virus do not have a problem with it; they typically have mild or no symptoms.
- Those at higher risk of experiencing severe disease are people with pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma. Patients with asthma should be conscious about taking prescribed medications and should be sure to get an influenza vaccine since influenza illnesses often “open the door” for other infections.
- While no vaccine exists, risk of infection can be decreased by regularly washing hands, avoiding touching the face with unclean hands, staying away from others who are sick and frequently disinfecting surfaces.
Resources for clinicians
Resources for parents