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Healthy You

What’s an Enterovirus and How to Prevent It

Thursday, October 11, 2018 10:37 AM

Many kids across the nation are getting sick  with what appears to be severe colds that are caused by enterovirus. As one of many common summer viruses that cause colds, enteroviruses are not unusual this time of year but hospitalizations for enteroviruses are. The majority of patients presenting with symptoms of enterovirus up to this point have been children but adults can also contract the illness. Prevention of illness is important no matter your age. 

Typically with enterovirus infections, symptoms will be mild and treatment of these symptoms will be the only intervention necessary. It is believed that the enterovirus currently causing most of the hospitalizations across the Midwest is enterovirus D68, which can cause fever and severe respiratory symptoms. Children with asthma are at higher risk due to their increased chances of wheezing.

Lindsay Uzunlar, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, shares some important prevention measures and symptoms parents should watch for in their children:

Symptoms
The symptoms of enterovirus are the same as a bad cold. Similar to colds, there isn’t much that can be done except to treat symptoms with ibuprofen or Tylenol, rest and fluids, and let the virus run its course. Most infections will be mild but some could eventually require hospitalization and intensive supportive therapy. If symptoms are especially severe including difficulty breathing, fevers lasting longer than 72 hours or if a child with asthma is wheezing, contact your child’s pediatrician or seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Here are some of the more common symptoms of colds, including those caused by enterovirus:

  • Fever
  • Body and muscle aches
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Rash

Prevention

  • Wash hands often. There is no better way to prevent the spread of infection. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, multiple times per day. This is especially important for school age children. Encourage your child’s teacher to schedule hand washing at various points throughout the day.
  • Model good hygiene. Make sure that your family practices proper coughing techniques such as coughing/sneezing into the elbow instead of the hand. If you do use a tissue or cough into your hands, make sure to wash them immediately afterwards.
  • Clean surfaces. Make sure you are cleaning surfaces that are touched frequently, including keyboards, doorknobs, phones, toys, countertops.
  • Stay home. If you or your children are feeling sick, think of others and stay home to prevent the spread of infection to co-workers and other children.