Enterovirus 68 and What You Need to Know
What is Enterovirus 68 and where is it now?
EV68 was first found and isolated in California in 1962 and is a rare respiratory virus that has been on the rise in the 21st century. EV68 is rare because it is one of hundreds of Entreroviruses, this group of ssRNA viruses contain the polioviruses, coxsackieviruses, and echoviruses. EV68 has also been misdiagnosed by doctors and researchers and was called the human rhinovirus87. This is because EV68 displays acid lability and a lower growth temperature, both are characteristics of the human Rhinovirus.
Mostly sporadic, when the virus was first discovered in 1962, clusters of cases have been seen between 2005-2011 and have been reported all over from the Philippians, Japan, the Netherlands and several cases in the United States; Georgia, Pennsylvania and Arizona. The 2014 outbreak has seen 145 suspected cases in the United states by mid September. Canada has also seen over 100 suspected cases. The United States, between Mid-August to October have seen 538 cases in 43 states.
Symptoms and signs
First, lets discuss who is the most likely to get this virus. Children who are under 5 and children who have asthma are the most likely to be at risk to get the EV68. However, adults with severe asthma and weak immune systems can also be at risk.
The most common symptom is respiratory illness and can be mild or severe. Other symptoms mimic the common cold and so it can be hard to detect and determine what the person has. These symptoms are, but are not limited to, fever, cough, sore throat and runny nose. As the virus progresses in the body the symptoms become more like pneumonia. The symptoms advance to trouble breathing, reduced alertness, a reduction in urine production, and dehydration, and may lead to respiratory failure. Other less common symptoms can occur such as skin rashes and abdominal pains. If the virus progresses enough, it can even cause death.
Paralysis has also been seen in several cases of this virus however doctors and researchers have not yet found if this is a direct link to the virus it's self.
Treatment and Prevention
Sadly, there is no known cute or treatment for EV68, and there is no vaccine either. It is said that it needs to run it's course through the body. All that they can do is treat the symptoms with lots of fluids and cold medicine. Most people recover fully and don't need to be hospitalized, however some of them that have severe cases may need to be hospitalized and had been paralyzed have been given steroids, intravenous immunoglobulin and/or plasma exchange. Sadly these treatments showed no beneficiary progress because no improvement was seen.
How can you prevent this virus? Well the CDC says to simply avoid those who are sick. The virus is spread through saliva and phlegm so washing your hands is critical in the prevention of becoming sick. If someone is sick, be sure that they cover their mouths when they cough and sanitize surfaces that they have touched from counter tops, phone to toys and even car steering wheels until the virus has ran it's course.
4 Deaths so Far
So far four people have died and tested positive for the Enterovirus 68, one of whom was a young 10 year old little girl. Emily Otrando, a 10-year-old from Cumberland, Rhode Island died on September 22nd.
"She died from overwhelming Staphylococcus aureus sepsis." Dr. Michael Fine told the reporters.
So to sum it up
The EV68 was first found in California in 1962 and over the many years it has been around and popped up between 2005-2011 in sporadic clusters around the United States. The 2014 outbreak has possibly been the larges outbreak with over 500 suspected cases of EV68.
The symptoms can mimic the common cold and if they progress can look like phenomenon. Coughing, fever, runny nose, to loss of alertness, dehydration, skin rashes and sometimes even paralysis and death. Also remember there is no known cure or treatment for EV68 so be sure to clean, clean and clean your home and office! Sanitize anything and everything you can and always remember to wash your hands and cover your mouth when you cough.
Also remember, those that are the most at risk are children 5 and under, and children with asthma but adults with severe asthma can also be at risk.
If you would like to learn more, or do your own research on Enterovirus 68, here are some helpful links.