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What is EV-D68 and How You Can Help Your Child Stay Healthy

In recent weeks, news of Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) has been sweeping the country. The virus has traced a path from the Midwest to the South and, most recently, to the Northeastern part of the United States.

What You Need to Know about EV-D68

EV-D68 is a non-polio respiratory virus that is believed to have been the cause of hundreds of children around the country having been hospitalized. Children with asthma are most dramatically affected by the virus. Kids who have contracted EV-D68 initially appear to have symptoms of a common cold or asthma attack. However, the symptoms can quickly become more extreme. A simple case of sniffles and coughs can quickly turn to wheezing. Children with EV-D68 become very pale and their lips appear to be blue. Their appetite decreases and they have difficulty speaking.

EV-D68 made its first appearance in 1962. The fact that many children today have never been exposed to this decades-old virus accounts for why so many kids have fallen so seriously ill after contracting the virus. They haven’t built up an immunity to it.

Like other non-polio enteroviruses, there is currently no vaccine for EV-D68, however, doctors around the country have been successfully treating children by giving them asthma medication and oxygen treatments.

How to Prevent the Spread of EV-D68

It can be frightening and heartbreaking for any parent, teacher or guardian to see a child sick or in pain. The symptoms of EV-D68 can be alarming when a child is afflicted, but there are certain things you can do to help prevent the spread of the virus.

For starters, if your child is sick, he or she should stay home and get plenty of care. This helps prevent spreading the virus to his or her classmates. If symptoms get worse, please do not hesitate to take your child to the doctor or emergency room to get them checked out.

If your child is healthy, there are a number of ways you can help them to stay healthy. According to the CDC, EV-D68 can be spread through close contact with an infected person or indirectly by touching contaminated surfaces or objects then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. Here are a few tips for helping to minimize your child’s risk of exposure:

Avoid contact with other children who may have the virus.

Children (and adults) should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds.

Wipe down surfaces with germicidal wipes, as well as toys or doorknobs. (Hint: Pack a few wipes in a plastic baggie with your child’s lunch so that they can wipe down the table or desk in front of them that may contain lingering germs.)

Avoid sharing plates, cups and eating utensils with others who may be sick.

Teachers may want to use a disinfecting spray in the classroom to help kill any airborne germs.

Krista Wolfe is a marketing project manager for where she writes to help small businesses, teachers and healthcare professionals make more informed decisions on office essentials. She also writes on our new community blog, Café Quill, about a wide range of business matters such as leadership, productivity and work-life balancing. Krista lives in Chicago and you can find her on Google+ or LinkedIN.