Enterovirus D68: What you need to know
A few questions and thoughts from The Doc Smitty
We alerted you a few weeks ago to a new respiratory virus, enterovirus D68 (EVD68), in the Midwest, Colorado and North Carolina. It has now made its way across the country and as we expected would happen, there have been cases confirmed in Texas.
Thus far, we have not seen the outbreak to be as severe as those seen in other regions. In my office, we are continuing to see the usual rise in respiratory illness as would be expected this time of year.
I want to take this opportunity to remind you that the severity of illness with EVD68 varies. Most children will have a common cold with runny nose and cough (most do not even have fever).
All of our Cook Children’s providers from the primary care offices to the hospital are aware of the situation so that we can continue to provide the best care for your children.
Here are some of the questions we have addressed in our previous coverage of this virus.
Does my child with runny nose and cough need to be seen by their doctor?
As with most viral infections, many of the children who get EVD68 will only have a runny nose and cough. There is no specific treatment for the virus and no way to predict who will become more ill once they have it. Because of this, there is no reason to rush in to be seen for mild symptoms. It is likely that the majority of children with these symptoms will get better on their own without treatment.
Watch your child for signs of wheezing or difficulty breathing, which would warrant a visit to your doctor or the emergency room. If you have any other concerns about your child, do not hesitate to contact your pediatrician for advice. Children with asthma need to be monitored especially closely. If your child has asthma, be sure that you have the prescribed nebulizer medication at your house should wheezing develop during the night.
How do we know if a child has EVD68?
Because there is no rapid test for the virus, your doctor or emergency room cannot determine if your child has it. That is why there is no need to be seen if your child’s symptoms are mild. At this point, testing is being recommended only for children hospitalized in an ICU setting.
How do we protect our children from EVD68?
As with all viruses, washing hands and keeping your child away from other sick children are important strategies. An important note: alcohol based hand sanitizers are not effective against EVD68, thus it is important to have your children wash their hands with soap and water before eating and periodically throughout the day.
My quick thoughts:
· Any new and emerging disease can be scary for parents.
· Media coverage increases the level of anxiety.
· Having a name for a virus increases the level of anxiety.
Fortunately, for most people, having information and being prepared help to decrease the anxiety. We see that as our job to you as your children’s hospital.
The good news is that there are many parts of the country that have already seen the peak of the illness and it is on the down swing. We have been able to monitor those outbreaks to be better prepared should we see an increase of cases in our area.
Justin Smith, M.D., is a Cook Children's pediatrician in Lewisville . He attended University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School and did his pediatric training at Baylor College of Medicine. He joined Cook Children's after practicing in his hometown of Abilene for four years. He has a particular interest in development, behavior and care for children struggling with obesity. In his spare time, he enjoys playing with his 3 young children, exercising, reading and writing about parenting and pediatric health issues.