Thursday, September 11, 2014

EV-D68? What’s that? What you need to know about the enterovirus outbreak

Protect yourself from EV-D68 by
washing your hands properly.
You may have heard lately about an outbreak of respiratory illness that’s making kids in a few states sick. The bug that’s causing the illnesses is called enterovirus D68, or sometimes just EV-D68.
In Missouri and Illinois, hospitals are seeing more kids than usual with enterovirus D68-related illness. A few other states are looking into cases of severe respiratory illness that may also be linked to enterovirus D68.
So what is enterovirus? It’s a type of bug that lives in our bodies, yet can make us sick. There are more than 100 types of enteroviruses and they have different names so that researchers and health providers can tell them apart. Enterovirus infections are common in the summer and fall, though they can happen any time of year.
The main way someone catches enterovirus is by touching something that has the bug on it and then touching their nose, mouth or eyes. You can also catch it by coming in close contact with another person that has the bug.
These bugs are very common and most people who get infected don’t become sick. Some people who get sick feel like they have a common cold, with symptoms like fever, body aches, sneezing and a runny nose.
However, babies and people with weak immune systems, such as people with HIV or those receiving cancer treatments, are at high risk to get very sick from enterovirus. People with illnesses such as asthma may also get very sick.
There is no vaccine that can protect you from this bug, but you can take steps to reduce your chance of getting sick:
  • Practice good hand hygiene: Wash your hands often. Be especially sure to wash your hands before you touch your face, after using the toilet and after changing diapers.
  • Break out the hand sanitizer: If you are not able to wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer that has at least 60 percent alcohol and rub a good amount onto your hands. Remember that hand sanitizer is only for when soap and water are not available and does not take the place of hand-washing.
  • Keep it clean: Clean and disinfect surfaces that are used a lot or that everyone touches, like door handles, light switches and tables.
If you or someone in your care has symptoms that cause you concern, especially a baby or someone whose immune system is not strong, it’s best to get them checked by your health care provider.

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