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Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68)

Enterovirus D68 (EV D68) Confirmed in Maryland

The CDC has confirmed the first case of EV D68 in Maryland. The case did not occur in Calvert, but given the quick spread of this viral strain across the country, it is likely that EV D68 will appear in our area within the next week. This virus can be dangerous, particularly for children with asthma or other lung problems. There is no vaccine available for EV-D68.

EV-D68 usually causes a mild respiratory illness, but severe symptoms can occur in some people. Although the virus can make anyone sick, children are most susceptible. Since there is no cure for the virus, it is very important to prevent the spread of infection by staying home from school or work if you start to develop a cough or fever. Children with asthma should use their inhalers and other medications properly to keep their wheezing under control and decrease the chance of serious illness.

There are over 100 types of enteroviruses that regularly circulate in the U.S. and symptoms vary with each strain. Strain D68 hasn’t been seen for about a generation. Because of this, children have never been exposed to it and therefore don’t have antibodies to quickly fight it off. Since these viruses spread easily when people cough, sneeze, share drinking glasses, or touch common objects like toys, we often see outbreaks of various enterovirus strains soon after children return to school.

Prevention is the best way to avoid becoming ill with respiratory viruses by:

• Covering coughs and sneezes
• Washing hands with soap and water
• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
• Stay home if sick
• Avoiding close contact with those sick with respiratory illness

Parents should review these prevention tips with their children and seek medical care if your child has severe respiratory symptoms.

And finally, although the flu vaccine doesn’t prevent enterovirus, if you or your child gets the flu, you are at much greater risk for serious complications from EV D68. So please protect yourself and your loved ones and make sure everyone gets the influenza vaccine soon.

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