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Remember that bad summer cold that many of us have experienced at one time or another? There’s a really good chance it was an enterovirus infection. Enteroviruses are very common, with 10 to 15 million infections in the US each year. They usually cause mild illness, if they make people sick at all.
But the strain recently suspected of causing severe respiratory symptoms in many children (enterovirus 68 or EV-D68) is actually quite rare and it’s unclear why it popped up this year. However, cold season typically peaks in September—it may be following a similar pattern.
There are confirmed cases of the strain in Wisconsin. UHS is monitoring the situation and is prepared to respond if cases occur on campus.
Who does it affect?
Occasionally adults will get sick, but EV-D68 primarily affects young children. Most children will only experience mild cold symptoms, while others, particularly those with asthma, may experience a more severe respiratory illness that requires hospitalization.
What is the treatment?
There isn’t a specific treatment for EV-D68 infections—you would typically soothe your symptoms like you do with a common cold.
If you have children, it can be difficult to tell the difference between a regular cold and EV-D68, but there are symptoms you should be on the lookout for if your child becomes sick. Visit your health care provider if your child develops a fever or rash, or has difficulty breathing.
How can I reduce my risk?
This virus likely spreads like other respiratory illnesses–from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches contaminates surfaces. You can protect yourself from DV-68 and many other illnesses by following these steps:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Stay home if you’re ill.