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Enterovirus D68 Spreading Throughout the Nation

*Originally written October 2014*

The return to school late every summer is something most children dread. This year, the back-to-school rush has come with a rare and unwanted friend, Enterovirus D68, which is basically a very bad cold with a rash, difficulty breathing, and sometimes a fever and wheezing.

EV-D68 is not entirely new. It was first recorded in the 1960s, but fewer than 100 cases had been reported up until this new outbreak.

Clusters of EV-D68 from this flare-up have been reported in Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Over 150 cases have been confirmed so far in this flare-up. Several other states are investigating clusters of respiratory illness that could be EV-D68. Samples have been sent to the CDC for testing.

EV-D68 spreads through close contact like the common cold. It can be spread by touching surfaces that are holding the virus. The best prevention is to disinfect commonly touched objects and avoid close contact with people who may be sick.

Children are especially susceptible to the virus since they have not yet developed a strong immune system to fight away the enterovirus. Hundreds of children have been hospitalized this season for a serious respiratory illness, though not all cases are caused by EV-D68.

There is no vaccine for EV-D68.

There is no definite way to prevent the illness. Disinfectant wipes will only do so much. Many small children are not educated in proper hygiene like regular hand washing and keeping their hands away from their faces. Long story short, all children must be taught to take all necessary steps to avoid getting the illness.

The outbreak of sickness will slow down eventually, but it is currently still ravaging between children throughout the nation, new cases appearing every day. People can only hope that the virus does not mutate to a strain that could cause even more severe symptoms.

The first death from EV-D68 was reported on Wednesday, October 1, 2014, and had occurred a few days previous. The patient had the enterovirus as well as a staph infection, an extremely rare combination, which led to the child’s death.

Three more deaths have been linked to EV-D68, but it is not confirmed that the enterovirus was the primary cause of death.

As of October 2, 2014, 500 cases had been confirmed in 42 states.

As the month of October nears its end, concern over the enterovirus has been replaced with concerns about Ebola in the United States as well as common diseases that happen every fall.