Colds and the Flu – Enterovirus D68
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Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is one of more than 100 non-polio enteroviruses. This virus was first identified in California in 1962.
What are the symptoms of EV-D68 infection?
EV-D68 can cause mild to severe respiratory illness.
- Mild symptoms may include runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches.
- Severe symptoms may include wheezing and difficulty breathing.
Anyone with respiratory illness should contact their healthcare provider if they are having difficulty breathing or if their symptoms are getting worse.
How does the virus spread?
Since EV-D68 causes respiratory illness, the virus can be found in an infected person’s respiratory secretions, such as saliva, nasal mucus, or sputum. EV-D68 likely spreads from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches a surface that is then touched by others.
What time of the year are people most likely to get infected?
In Canada, people are more likely to get infected with enteroviruses in the summer and fall.
How common is EV-D68 in Canada?
A mix of enteroviruses circulates every year, and different types of enteroviruses can be common in different years. During 2014, the number of people reported with confirmed EV-D68 infection was much greater than that reported in previous years. We can’t predict whether EV-D68 will be a common type of enterovirus detected in future seasons.
What happened with EV-D68 in 2014?
In 2014, Canada experienced a widespread outbreak of EV-D68 associated with respiratory illness. Between July 2014 and October 2014, 282 specimens from several provinces across Canada tested positive for EV-D68. In contrast, during a prior 15-year period (1999 to 2013), 82 specimens tested positive for EV-D68.
Who is at risk?
In general, infants, children, and teenagers are most likely to get infected with enteroviruses and become ill. That’s because they do not yet have immunity (protection) from previous exposures to these viruses. We believe this is also true for EV-D68. Adults can get infected with enteroviruses, but they are more likely to have no symptoms or mild symptoms.
Children with asthma may have a higher risk for severe respiratory illness caused by EV-D68 infection.
How is it diagnosed?
EV-D68 can only be diagnosed by doing specific lab tests on specimens from a person’s nose and throat, or blood.
Testing for EV-D68 should only be considered for an individual hospitalized with severe respiratory illness
What are the treatments?
There is no specific treatment for people with respiratory illness caused by EV-D68. Contact your child’s healthcare provider about the best way to control their symptoms.
Some people with severe respiratory illness may need to be hospitalized.
There are no antiviral medications currently available for people who become infected with EV-D68.
How can I protect myself?
You can help prevent yourself from getting and spreading EV-D68 and other respiratory illnesses by following these steps:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. See Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or shirt sleeve, not your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
There are no immunizations for preventing EV-D68 infections.
What should people with asthma and children suffering from reactive airway disease do?
Children with asthma are at risk for severe symptoms from EV-D68 and other respiratory illnesses.
- Discuss and update your asthma action plan with your primary care provider.
- Take your prescribed asthma medications as directed, especially long term control medication(s).
- Be sure to keep your reliever medication with you.
- Get a flu vaccine when available.
- If you develop new or worsening asthma symptoms, follow the steps of your asthma action plan. If your symptoms do not go away, call your healthcare provider right away.
- Parents should make sure the child’s caregiver and/or teacher is aware of their condition, and that they know how to help if the child experiences any symptoms related to asthma.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Public Health Agency of Canada at: