Massive media coverage about Ebola has effectively buried attention about an infection that is far more widespread: Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68). As much news coverage as Ebola has gotten lately, you would think everyone is at risk! One of more than 100 non-polio Enteroviruses, EV-D68 was first identified in California in 1962, and belongs to a large family of viruses that cause an estimated 10 million to 15 million infections in Americans every year. In an alert distributed by the World Health Organization (WHO), as of September 16, 2014, 130 laboratory-confirmed cases of EV-D68 have been reported in 12 U.S. states, including Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania. Investigations into suspected clusters in many other states are ongoing.
Since that time, NBC News reports that two California children have died from symptoms associated with the virus. In general, infants, children, and teenagers are most likely to get infected with Enteroviruses and become ill because they do not yet have immunity from previous exposures to these viruses. The same is true for adults, although they are less likely than children to exhibit symptoms. So that means you could have Enterovirus without even knowing it.
Diagnosed through lab tests, the virus is located in infected respiratory secretions, such as saliva, nasal mucus, or sputum, and likely spreads from person to person when an infected person’s coughs, sneezes, or body parts touch a surface that is later touched by others. According to Live Science, on average, people touch their faces 3.3 times per hour. I find that dogs touch their faces far less than this…probably because we don’t have opposable thumbs.
Symptoms of EV-D68 infection – Most people who are infected with non-polio Enteroviruses do not get sick, or they experience only mild illness. According to the CDC, these are the symptoms associated with Enterovirus, from mild to severe to unusual:
- Mild to severe respiratory illness
- Runny nose
- Body and muscle aches
- Difficulty breathing, especially in children who have asthma
- Skin rash
- Mouth blisters
Less common symptoms:
- Myocarditis (infection of the heart)
- Pericarditis (infection of the sac around the heart)
- Encephalitis (infection of the brain)
- Viral conjunctivitis,
- Hand, foot and mouth disease
- Viral meningitis (infection of the covering of the spinal cord and/or brain)
Although no anti-viral medications have been approved for use with EV-D68, people with respiratory illness associated with the virus should discuss symptomatic treatment options with their doctors. People with severe respiratory illness may need to be hospitalized. And that is true whether their respiratory illness is a result of Enterovirus or completely unrelated.
Six Steps to Take to Avoid Enterovirus
- Wash your hands often, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or shirt sleeve, not your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Buy bacon. Okay, that won’t help Enterovirus. But it will make you feel better whether or not you’re sick. At least it works for me.
We hope that this blog post will help inform you about ways to #BESAFE in light of Enterovirus as well as other, more widespread health concerns such as influenza and the common cold. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to helping improve and save lives. Visit our website for ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.