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Enterovirus D68 – What you should know

October 10, 2014

Enterovirus has been making headlines for the past several weeks as health officials in Colorado and with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigating an upper respiratory illness that has hospitalized children in 38 states. The outbreak has concerned officials because some children with severe cases developed neurologic symptoms, including paralysis.

Enterovirus is a type of viral upper respiratory infection (otherwise known as a cold) that has been causing more severe breathing problems. The virus has been around since 1987 but has been seen more frequently in 2014.  

According to the CDC, Oregon has not yet had a documented case of the virus but cases have been reported across the country including California, Washington and Idaho.  Even though Enterovirus is more likely to infect people in the summer and fall, it is very likely that we will start seeing some cases in Oregon before year’s end.

What do I look for?

Symptoms include fever runny nose, sneezing, cough and muscle aches.  More severe symptoms include wheezing and difficulty breathing.  There are no specific medications or treatments for Enterovirus but anyone with symptoms of difficulty breathing should contact their doctor.  There is an easy test to confirm the diagnosis of Enterovirus

How do I protect my family from Enterovirus? 

Infants, children and teenagers are most likely to get Enterovirus.  Adults can get it too but the symptoms are much milder.  Children with asthma may be at greater risk of developing serious breathing problems.  The virus is spread via respiratory secretions (saliva, nasal mucus or sputum).

These are the best ways to protect you and your family from all colds and flus:

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact (kissing, hugging, sharing utensils and cups) with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough with your shirt sleeve or tissue.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs and toys.
  • Stay home if you are sick.