There’s a virus in the US that’s sending kids to the hospital. Symptoms are similar to a severe cold. The virus is called human enterovirus 68 (EV-D68).
This virus affects the respiratory system, which is made up of the organs and tissues that let us breathe, including our airways (nose, mouth, windpipe), our lungs, and many other bits that work to keep us breathing.
EV-D68 was not a common culprit of respiratory disease until about 2009. That’s when the virus started to be identified with outbreaks in different parts of the world.
There are many strains or types of enteroviruses, and they are frequently the cause of our colds. This particular strain, EV-D68, is causing colds, but there are an unusual number of hospitalizations with this infection. Symptoms include coughing and difficulty breathing, which is what’s sending some people to the hospital. In addition, some people may have wheezing, a fever, or rash.
Those with existing respiratory issues, such as asthma, may find their symptoms more severe, as they do with any respiratory infection.
IMPORTANT POINT: This virus isn’t typically life-threatening, and although some who are infected will find themselves battling severe symptoms, most will experience only a mild cold.
There’s no vaccine available. We need to do what we always do to prevent colds—clean our hands throughout the day and keep our hands off of our face, as germs enter through our nose, mouth, and eyes. If someone offers you a bite of their spaghetti or a drink of their soda, politely refuse. Get your own spaghetti and drink.
And CDC reminds us that it’s important to disinfect surfaces (doorknobs, keyboards) to zap those germs where they sit.
It’s scary for parents to hear about kids being hospitalized, but if we practice basic disease prevention methods, we’ll help our families avoid this and other viruses that cause colds.