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What is it?

Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is a relatively rare virus with potentially serious risks to some people.   

What are the signs and symptoms?

EV-D68 often causes respiratory illness ranging from mild cold-like sickness (fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing and muscle aches) to severe infections that require hospitalization. Children with a history of asthma seem to be more susceptible to develop complications.  Parents should be aware that:

  • Most children will have a runny nose or cough, like a common cold.
  • More serious symptoms include wheezing, trouble breathing, and children not eating. Parents should seek immediate medical attention if their children have these symptoms.
  • Children with asthma and children under six months are more susceptible. They should see a doctor if they have persistent fevers, coughs, or display any trouble breathing.
  • There is no vaccination for the virus. Treatment includes keeping a child at home to prevent the spread of the virus and administering plenty of fluids and nutrition and ensuring the child gets lots of rest.

As with any respiratory illness, parents are advised to seek medical attention with their family healthcare provider if their children develop high fever or difficulty in breathing.

How is it spread?

EV-D68 spreads the same way the common cold does.  The virus can be present in respiratory secretions from the nose and throat and can spread from an infected person when they cough or sneeze. Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with these secretions may also result in infection if the virus then gets into the body by touching the mouth, nose or eyes.

How can I reduce the chances of getting EV-D68?

As with any viral infection, simple precautions can reduce the chances of getting EV-D68:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub, including after touching commonly touched objects and surfaces, before touching your face, before preparing food and before eating.
  • Avoid touching your face as much as possible.
  • Stay at least two metres (six feet) away from people who are ill.
  • Frequently clean surfaces and objects that are commonly touched.

What are the tests for?

Laboratory testing should be considered for patients with severe respiratory illness, especially children, among whom symptomatic enterovirus infections, including EV-D68, are more common. Laboratory testing direction from Public Health Ontario http://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/BrowseByTopic/InfectiousDiseases/Pages/Enterovirus-D68.aspx#howis

How is it treated?

There is no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment for EV-D68. Most people don’t require any treatment and will get better on their own with time. Seek medical attention right away if you are having difficulty breathing or wheezing that does not respond to puffers.

To avoid spreading viral infections:

  • Stay home from work, school and other activities if you are ill.
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow and not your hand.
  • Clean your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.

For more information, including general information as well as laboratory testing information for health care providers (When is EV-D68 testing recommended?, What is the EV-D68 testing process? How to order EV-D68 testing), visit the Public Health Agency of Canada Enterovirus D68 page.