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5 Ways to Stop Enterovirus D68, the Child Respiratory Disease Sweeping America

Updated on October 2, 2014

What is Enterovirus D68?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a Health Advisory for the United States for Enterovirus D68. EV D68 was first identified in 1962 in California, and is one of 64 non-poliomyelitis viruses that affect millions of people every year. Usually without incident.

EV D68 tends to start with symptoms like the common cold such as fever, runny nose , sneezing, cough and muscle aches. The difference with this enterovirus is it can rapidly progress in children, to a very severe respiratory case, requiring hospitalization. Some children, especially with Asthma or other predisposed lung conditions may even require ventilitory assistance, such as intubation on life support in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

How Does it spread?

EV D68 is transmitted through saliva, nasal mucus or sputum. It is not an airborne disease.

Once it enters into the body through the nose mouth or eyes, the virus quickly gets into the lungs, where edema happens. In adults, this edema may be irritating and cause coughing, but generally does not get severe enough to effect breathing. Children have smaller airways, so even a little inflammation can be catastrophic. Children with damaged airways are at the highest risk for requiring hospitalization.

This virus surfaced in August 2014, and has quickly swept across america now in 41 states, with 472 confirmed cases at the time of writing.

Typically enterovirus starts mid summer, peaking early fall then tapering off, so hopefully we are near the peak of this outbreak, but the CDC will have to keep monitoring.

The only way to confirm the diagnosis is by lab test from a swab of nose or throat.

There is no vaccine for this virus, and no antivirals have been proven to be effective at this point. Of course antibiotics are not effective in this viral disease.

Acidic Foods are Your Friends

Apple cider vinegar

Peak Flow Meter

Top 5 Ways To Prevent Enterovirus D68

1. Temperature above 98.6 degrees.

Research has shown this is one of the only Enteroviruses to be destroyed by heat. Drinking hot chocolate, herbal tea, hot soup etc can be enough to stop this virus in it's tracks. This also includes body temperature. Don't be so quick to give a feverish child Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen, as the fever may disable the virus.

2. Eating Acidic Foods

Also unique to this virus, is the ability for acid to disable it on the spot. Anything with a PH of 3 will do the trick. A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, squeeze of lemon can be enough to prevent EV D68. Even fruit such as citrus oranges, blueberries, or even an apple can have enough acid to promote health. If your child has been exposed, or cold symptoms are starting, add fruit to every meal. Young children can have applesauce, or orange juice.

3. Hand-washing at least 20 seconds

As with all Enteroviruses, hand-washing is your friend. Minimum 20 seconds with fairly warm water and soap is required to stop the spread of the disease. Alcohol gel has been shown less effective in killing the virus, so hand-washing is preferred. Hot cloth to wipe down toys, door handles etc in young children's environments it crucial. It is recommended that hand washing be part of a routine 5-6 times per day, especially in school and day care settings.

4. Hands Away from the Face

Avoid touching your nose, eyes or mouth with unwashed hands at all costs. This is very hard for young children to do, but try to stress this from a young age for overall health and preventing diseases spreading. Don’t share cups, straws or utensils. Make sure children's pacifiers are clean. Use the dishwasher sanitary cycle if possible. Any frequently touched items need to stay clean, even computers, remote controls, etc.

5. For Children with Asthma, Use a Peak Flow Meter

Parents of children with Asthma should already own one of these very inexpensive little devices. It measures how fast air comes out of lungs when forcefully exhaling after full deep breath in. This tool helps asthmatics keep their disease in check by detecting an airway problem. In fact a change can predict onset of asthma attack hours to days ahead of time.

This can be used the detect a rapid change in a child with Enterovirus, to determine if medical attention is needed. If your child has asthma, now would be a good time to buy one of these tools.

Are you worried about Enterovirus D68 affecting one of your loved ones?

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When to Seek Medical Attention

Seek medical attention if there is a rapid deterioration in the child's health, especially if breathing becomes labored. Surprisingly, even in the asthmatic children, wheezing does not seem to be a symptom. The children just describe having difficulty breathing, as if they are drowning. This is why the typical bronchial dilators do not seem to help in these cases.

Any sign of muscle paralysis, even if the cold like symptoms have resolved.

Note, these changes can occur rapidly, so be on alert when putting a sick child to bed. Do several checks during the night to ensure there is no deterioration in breathing.

Latest News about Enterovirus D68

The CDC claims there is no paralysis or muscle weakness associated with this virus, but there have been about 10 cases reported in North America. Notably 2 in British Columbia Canada where the young teens seemed to recover from the cold like symptoms, only to later come down with single arm paralysis, requiring hospitalization.

There have been no confirmed deaths for the Enterovirus D68, but there are 3 cases where a child has died that are being investigated for the possibility of linking the disease to cause of death.

Update October 2, 2014:

The CDC now confirms 500 cases in the USA with 42 states now having positive patients. 4 deaths officially have tested positive for EV D68, but it is not yet clear if enterovirus can be blamed for the cause of death.

Cases with paralysis are increasing. Canada now has 4 children hospitalized in Calgary Alberta with confirmed EV D68 and paralysis, on top of 2 cases in BC. Colorado has had 10 cases with paralysis, as well as Boston and Michigan. The CDC still has not confirmed EV D68 is to blame.


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