Fall is here, and with that comes cold and flu season. Day care centers and schools are breeding grounds for viruses, and the recent outbreak of Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) in the Midwest has brought preventing the spread of germs to the forefront of parents’ and caretakers’ minds.
What is EV-D68?
EV-D68 is a strain of enterovirus, a type of virus that most people have come across in the past without even realizing it. This particular strain is causing respiratory complications that are hospitalizing children across the Midwest.
EV-D68 Elicits Cold-like Symptoms
- Runny nose
More severe cases may present wheezing, rash and fever. If a child seems to be having excessive breathing complications – flared nostrils, sucking in at the ribs, quick and shallow breaths – parents and caregivers should contact a doctor immediately. In many cases, the children being hospitalized are the ones who come in to see a doctor a little later than they should.
Like all viruses, EV-D68 cannot be treated with antibiotics, so parents are encouraged to administer supportive care.
- Make sure that children are drinking plenty of fluids
- Reduce uncomfortable fevers by administering acetaminophen every six hours or ibuprofen every eight hours. If a child is exhibiting signs of dehydration (less than four urinations in a 24-hour period, dry mouth, sunken eyes, a sunken soft spot on a baby's head, etc.) try to avoid Advil, as it can lead to papillary necrosis. Never give aspirin to a child or teen with a fever, as this can lead to a condition called Reye syndrome.
- For infants and young children, use a bulb syringe with or without nasal saline to suck mucus out of the nose
If a child is hospitalized, he or she may receive breathing assistance and treatment to help the immune system fight off the virus.
Prevention is key. This is done through frequent hand washing/sanitizing, good cough hygiene, staying home when sick and being observant when your child is sick!
Boys Town Pediatrics Encourages Prevention through Education
Dr. Micah Ryan, pediatrician for Boys Town Pediatrics, visited Small Miracles Child Care in Omaha, Neb. to teach kids the importance of proper hygiene and how they can prevent the spread of germs.
We've probably all been exposed to an enterovirus in the past. This particular strain of enterovirus, D68, this is affecting kids, not necessarily adults.
What we are seeing is much of the respiratory, the breathing issues, lots of wheezing, lots of strong coughs.
It's really getting kids sick enough where, not only are they getting admitted to the hospital, but even to the intensive-care unit because they are getting that bad from this virus.
Right now, this enterovirus D68, we're not seeing it in Omaha yet. It will be here. Right now, it's in Kansas City, Chicago, with suspected cases in Colorado and Iowa. We're going to get it eventually.
When should I bring my child to the doctor?
I always tell my patients and parents that if you start seeing them sucking in above their ribs or below their ribs. You might see their nose really flaring wide. You're going to see them breathing really quickly, especially with our babies. We see them really start moving their head quite a bit and moving their belly quite a bit. You just get that sense that, wow, they're breathing just a little too hard. That's when you want to bring them in.
How can I protect my children from enterovirus D68?
The biggest thing you can do to protect your family is good hand-washing, good cough hygiene, and if you're kid gets sick, just know that you have to keep a close eye on them.
If you are concerned, don't wait, bring your child in.