Headlines across the globe are reporting the Ebola outbreak cases in the United States.
But are our concerns focused on the wrong virus? Less than two weeks ago on Sept. 25th, a New Jersey 4-year-old boy died of the Entero D-68 virus. This was the first death linked to the virus.
However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported four more people infected with the virus have died, saying its unclear whether the virus was the cause of death. This virus has effected more than 500 people in 43 states. It mostly effects children like Eli Waller, one of three triplets.
Why don't we know more about the Enterovirus?
What's interesting is that the enterovirus was first identified in 1962 and has caused clusters of illness before. You can expect a runny nose and low-grade fever as symptoms, similar to how most flu viruses begin. Here are more facts:
- Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is one of more than 100 non-polio enteroviruses. It was first identified in California in 1962.
- EV-D68 can cause mild to severe respiratory illness.
- Mild symptoms may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches.
- Severe symptoms may include wheezing and difficulty breathing.
- Children with asthma may have a higher risk for severe respiratory illness caused by EV-D68 infection
- EV-D68 can only be diagnosed by doing specific lab tests on specimens from a person’s nose and throat.
In general, infants, children, and teenagers are most likely to get infected with enteroviruses and become ill. This is due to them not having strong immunity (protection) from previous exposures to these viruses. Researchers believe this is also true for EV-D68. Adults can get infected with enteroviruses, but they are more likely to have no symptoms or mild symptoms.
Best practices for preventing illness this time of year are hand washing, proper diet and rest and most importantly noticing when your children are not acting themselves. It's difficult for children to report their symptoms so moms should be keen on keeping their eyes and ears open for a little one's distress.
As a mom who has personally had a child in the ICU and hospital for 10 days with spinal meningitis, I can honestly say it's difficult to know when to bring them to the doctor once they respond to Children's tylenol with a fever... but keep your gut feeling in mind. That's the only thing that saved my daughter, plus a GREAT pediatrician with some keen instincts as well.