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girlcoughingIf you were paying attention to the news this past winter, chances are you heard about a respiratory illness that affected children in several states.  The virus that was responsible for these illnesses was Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68).

While there are more than 100 types of enteroviruses that commonly cause respiratory illness, EV-D68 is a less common type.  Infants, children, and teenagers are more likely than others to become infected and get sick from EV-D68, because they do not yet have immunity from previous exposures. Many of the children who experienced severe illness (difficulty breathing, wheezing) during this past outbreak also had a history of asthma or wheezing in the past.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was watching the situation closely and worked with state and local health departments to identify and investigate outbreaks. Cases of EV-D68 were confirmed in some children from New York State.

Symptoms of EV-D68 include fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, mouth blisters, a skin rash, and body aches. The virus is caught by being in close contact with someone who is infected or by touching your mouth, eyes or nose after touching a contaminated surface.

There is no specific treatment or vaccination against EV-D68, so practicing proper respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene is the best defense. You can help protect yourself and your family from respiratory illnesses like EV-D68 by following these steps:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, often.
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Stay home when you are sick to avoid spreading illness to others.

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