Parents may be aware starting in mid-August there have been clusters of an illness affecting children in a number of states in the Midwest due to a virus called Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) and that the virus is spreading to the Northeast. EV-D68 is of concern because it can cause severe respiratory illness in some children, especially those with asthma.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health has received reports from two hospitals in different parts of the state of clusters of severe respiratory illness among young children. Public Health officials are working with the CDC and the hospitals to determine if these are due to EV-D68.
Enterovirus is a common cause of childhood illness, and there are many different types. EV-D68 is not a new virus, it was originally isolated in 1962. Most people infected with Enterovirus have mild symptoms, which can include fever, runny nose, coughing, and body aches, but some infections can be more serious. Infections caused by Enterovirus are transmitted through close contact with an infected person, or touching a surface contaminated with Enterovirus and then touching the eyes, nose or mouth.
Preventing the spread of Enterovirus is not unlike taking steps to prevent other viruses like influenza. Frequent hand washing, covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing, wiping down surfaces, avoiding close contact with others who are acutely ill, including not sharing utensils or cups. Also, parents should be careful about keeping children home from school or activities if they are getting sick.
We are happy to answer any questions you may have about Enterovius D68. There is no simple test to determine if your child has EV-D68. The presence of this particular strain of Enterovirus can only be confirmed by the CDC. Any child who is sick and has severe respiratory symptoms, especially trouble breathing, even if they do not have a fever, should be promptly examined to determine what treatment is needed.