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Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is a respiratory virus that may cause mild to severe respiratory illness. EV-D68 is circulating in Florida. Symptoms may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body aches. Severe symptoms may include wheezing and difficulty breathing. Anyone with respiratory illness should contact their doctor if they are having difficulty breathing or if their symptoms are getting worse.
EV-D68 causes respiratory illness and the virus can be found in an infected person’s respiratory secretions, such as saliva, nasal mucus, or sputum. EV-D68 likely spreads from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches a surface that is then touched by others.
In general, infants, children, and teenagers are most likely to get infected with enteroviruses and become ill because they do not yet have immunity (protection) from previous exposures to these viruses. Adults can also get infected with enteroviruses, but they are more likely to have no symptoms or mild symptoms.
EV-D68 can only be diagnosed by doing specific lab tests on specimens from a person’s nose and throat. Many hospitals and some doctor offices can test ill patients to see if they have enterovirus infection. However, most cannot do specific testing to determine the type of enterovirus, like EV-D68. The Florida Department of Health (DOH) can perform this type of testing. DOH recommends that clinicians only consider EV-D68 testing for hospitalized, severely ill children who have tested negative for influenza and respiratory syncytial virus.
There is no specific treatment for people with respiratory illness caused by EV-D68. For mild respiratory illness, you can help relieve symptoms by taking over-the-counter medications for pain and fever. Aspirin should not be given to children. There are no antiviral medications currently available for people who become infected with EV-D68. Some people with severe respiratory illness may need to be hospitalized.
You can help prevent yourself from getting and spreading EV-D68 and other respiratory illnesses by following these steps:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Avoid close contact, such as touching and shaking hands, with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces with a bleach solution (1 part bleach to 9 parts water).
- Stay home when you are sick and keep children home when they are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
- Try not to touch your face with unwashed hands.
Children with asthma are at risk for severe symptoms from EV-D68 and other respiratory illnesses. They should follow DOH’s guidance to maintain control of their illness during this time.
- Discuss and update your asthma action plan with your primary care provider.
- Take your prescribed asthma medications as directed, especially long term control medication(s).
- Be sure to keep your reliever medication with you.
- Get a flu vaccine when available.
- If you develop new or worsening asthma symptoms, follow the steps of your asthma action plan. If your symptoms do not go away, call your doctor right away.
- Parents should make sure the child’s caregiver and/or teacher is aware of his/her condition, and that they know how to help if the child experiences any symptoms related to asthma.