Enterovirus D68

What is Enterovirus D68?
Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is a strain of a family of common viruses that cause respiratory or "cold" symptoms such as fever, cough, runny nose, sneezing and sore throat. Enteroviruses usually spread in the summer and fall in North America and there is a spike in this type illness every year when kids go back to school.
How is this Enterovirus D68 strain different?
Children, especially young children, are becoming more ill with this strain of the virus than other enterovirus strains. In the United-States, many children have been hospitalized for breathing problems. There have been no deaths directly linked to the Enterovirus-D68 strain (as of September 19, 2014). 
When should I be concerned about my child's symptoms and what should I do?
Mild symptoms: Children with mild symptoms such as fever, cough, runny nose, sneezing or sore throat should see a primary care provider such as a family doctor, a nurse practitioner or go to a walk-in clinic, if the parent is concerned.

Severe Symptoms: Breathing problems are the main concern. Children with laboured breathing or wheezing (a high-pitched whistling sound when inhaling/exhaling) should be seen by a healthcare provider. Children who appear to be struggling to breathe need to be taken to an Emergency Department immediately.

Who is most affected by Enterovirus D68?
The most affected groups are children under the age of 5 and children and teenagers with asthma or other breathing problems. They are at higher risk of having severe illness and should be watched more closely for worsening symptoms. Children with asthma or breathing problems should have medications such as inhalers available and there should be a plan of action for breathing problems. Adults will usually get a mild illness or will not get sick at all, but may still spread the virus to others.
How does the virus spread?
Like any other respiratory or "cold" virus, it is spread from person-to-person or through contact with surfaces that are contaminated with the bodily fluids of an infected person, like saliva or mucus. It is also spread through droplets from coughs or sneezes. 
What can I do to protect myself and/or my children?
Protection from this virus is the same as what is done for other respiratory or "cold" viruses including:
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 15 seconds:
    • After being in a public place or outdoors
    • After coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
    • After visiting the washroom
    • Before preparing or eating food
    • Before and after visiting with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs and toys
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you can't wash your hands with soap and water
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue, your arm or your sleeve - not your hand
  • Stay at home when you are ill

For more simple steps on how to prevent the spread of germs that cause enterovirus and other illnesses, visit Prevent the Spread of Germs

How does someone get tested for Enterovirus D68?
Testing for the virus strain is not done routinely because the treatment is the same for all respiratory viruses, but it is possible to test in some situations.
How is it treated?
There is treatment that can be very helpful to reduce symptoms, starting with rest and drinking lots of fluids. When severe breathing difficulties or wheezing occurs, medicines or devices are available in hospital to help breathing.
What is Ottawa Public Health's role?
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is working closely with hospitals and healthcare providers in the community to ensure there is proper assessment and management of this illness. 

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