Written by Greg Brown, Mayo Clinic News Specialist
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), enterovirus infections are common in the summer and fall. However, hospitals throughout the U.S. are seeing more children than usual with severe respiratory illness caused by enterovirus D68. The CDC is watching the situation and helping with testing of specimens. Health care providers should consider enterovirus D68 in young children with severe respiratory illness or unexplained muscle weakness, and report unusual increases in cases to their state health department.
There is no vaccine or medicine that treats enterovirus infection specifically; but, children can be treated with supportive care, including oxygen, breathing treatments and fluids, as needed.
Clinicians at the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center have been treating a surge of children with acute respiratory illness, involving wheezing and difficulty breathing, since mid-August. One case was confirmed to be due to enterovirus D68, and several other cases are suspected to be due to that virus. Adults also can be infected with enterovirus D68, although the current outbreak of disease appears to affect children primarily. The reason for this is not known. Enterovirus D68 is particularly hard on those with asthma and reactive airway disease.
If you or your children have asthma and or reactive airway disease, the CDC recommends that you:
Proactively manage your child’s health by taking these steps:
- 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).
- 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 primary care provider right away.