The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that Enterovirus D68, a rare respiratory virus now in 21 states, has spread from its place of origin in the Midwest and is sickening kids in the tri-state area. Confirmed cases have been reported in Connecticut and New York and, over the next few weeks, New Jersey parents should be on the lookout for symptoms of this new, potentially dangerous virus in their own kids.
What are the symptoms?
The virus affects children in many different ways and at different levels of severity. Some cases report nothing more than common cold symptoms, such as runny nose, sneezing and cough. One-third of all cases so far have experienced fever, and other affected kids have experienced severe breathing problems and wheezing. Enterovirus D68 is particularly dangerous for kids with a history of breathing problems (such as asthma).
How does it spread? What can you do to prevent?
Just like any cold or flu, the virus spreads easily through hand-to-hand contact with infected individuals. Unfortunately, there is currently no vaccine to prevent and because its a virus, antibiotics won’t help. If a child is hospitalized, doctors will administer oxygen to help with breathing—some hospitals are also treating kids with asthma meds to help open restricted airways. While hundreds of kids have been hospitalized, so far there have been no reported fatalities.
What else should parents know?
Just like any cold, hand washing and careful sanitizing is your best defense. Closely monitor your kid if he gets sick and call your doctor or bring him directly to the emergency room if he has any trouble breathing, starts wheezing, can’t talk, or you notice the skin in his neck or around his ribs tightening as he breathes.