The typical symptoms with a D-68 infection are upper respiratory with sore throat, runny nose and a cough.
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By Sue Hubbard, M.D.
Enterovirus infections are in the news once again, and are causing a lot of parental anxiety. While enterovirus D-68 has caused some serious illness in children, especially in the Midwest and now spreading to the Northeastern states, remember that many children handle this virus just like a bad cold.
Enteroviruses have been around for a long time; in fact, polio is caused by an enterovirus. But thankfully, there's a vaccine for polio. The hundreds of other enteroviral infections can cause upper respiratory symptoms and viral meningitis, as well as vomiting and diarrhea. In most cases, when you have many of these symptoms, you don't even think to "name the virus."
Enterovirus D-68 was first reported in 1968 (thus the name), but it wasn't until 2008-2012 when it again began to be identified and was reported in medical literature. Enteroviruses typically peak in late summer and early fall, so this is the time of year we expect to see a peak in these infections.
The typical symptoms with a D-68 infection are upper respiratory with sore throat, runny nose and a cough. Only about 25 percent of patients are reporting a fever. In some cases, especially among children with a history of asthma or wheezing, there have been more severe symptoms, including difficulty breathing, wheezing and respiratory distress.
In these instances, children have been admitted to the hospital for supportive care, which includes IV hydration, bronchodilator therapy, and supplemental oxygen. In some cases, a child may require intensive care. Fortunately, there have not been any deaths associated with enterovirus D-68.
The bottom line? This is yet another respiratory illness that may cause severe symptoms in some children. We also see this with other viruses, such as RSV and flu, which will be circulating later this fall and winter. If your child is sick and seems to be having ANY difficulty breathing, you need to call your doctor or go to the ER.
If your child is sick, keep them home from school. If you're sick, too, don't go to work or volunteer in the school cafeteria. To stay healthy over the ensuing "sick" season, practice good hand-washing and cough hygiene. Lastly, everyone over the age of 6 months needs a flu vaccine.
Dr. Sue Hubbard is an award-winning pediatrician, medical editor and media host. "The Kid's Doctor" TV feature can be seen on more than 90 stations across the U.S. Submit questions at http://www.kidsdr.com
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