Enterovirus: What Parents Need to Know

Enterovirus: What Parents Need to Know

Enteroviruses of various types cause about 10 to15 million infections each year in the US, usually in the late summer or early fall.

Symptoms are similar to the common cold.

The vast majority of children with enteroviruses, such as EV-D68, have mild symptoms and do not need any medical care beyond what is done for the common cold. 

Enteroviruses can cause serious breathing problems. 

Infants,  children with asthma, and those with weak immune systems have a greater chance of breathing problems and complications; some requiring treatment in the intensive care unit. Pregnant women who get infected with an enterovirus shortly before delivery can pass the virus to their babies.

​Information for parents of children with asthma:​​​​This virus is particularly hard on children’s lungs. Therefore, it is especially important for parents of children previously diagnosed with asthma to:Help your child follow his or her asthma action plans.Communicate with your child’s pediatrician or subspecialist to plan in advance for times when symptoms may need urgent medical care.
Take prescribed asthma medications as directed, especially long-term control medication(s).
Keep the reliever (rescue) medication (inhaler or nebulizer) on hand.Get the seasonal influenza vaccine  as soon as vaccine is available, because an influenza infection in the lungs can trigger asthma attacks and a worsening of asthma symptoms.Make sure the child’s caregiver and/or teacher is aware of his condition, and that they know how to avoid asthma triggers and what to do if the child experiences any symptoms related to asthma.Although no children should be exposed to secondhand smoke, it is especially important to prohibit smoking in homes and cars where children with asthma live.

If your child is experiencing symptoms: 

Children with a high fever and those with cold symptoms lasting longer than 7-10 days should talk with their pediatrician. 

Those with difficulty breathing should seek emergency care.

How are enteroviruses spread?

Enteroviruses are spread by close contact with an infected person. You can also become infected by touching objects or surfaces that have the virus on them and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.

Tips to reduce the risk of enterovirus infections:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers.​
  • Avoid touching, eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
  • Stay home when feeling sick, and consult with your health care provider.

Remember, enterovirus is different from the flu!  

To protect against the flu virus, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends all children ages six months and older be get their flu vaccine at the earliest possible time.

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