American Lung Association Statement on Recent Increase in Enterovirus D68
Several cases of enterovirus D68, a rare and serious respiratory infection, have been reported in the United States. Hospitals in Missouri and Illinois are seeing more children than usual with severe respiratory illness caused by enterovirus D68. Several other states are investigating cases of children with severe respiratory illness that could also be caused by enterovirus D68.
Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is one of many non-polio enteroviruses. Symptoms include mild to severe respiratory distress, however, the full range of symptoms are not well defined. How the infection is spread is not fully understood, but the virus likely spreads from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes or touches contaminated surfaces.
Children with pre-existing lung conditions, such as asthma, appear to be at the greatest risk for severe symptoms from this virus.
“The number of afflicted children has certainly risen significantly in the past several days to weeks. Fortunately, most enterovirus (EV-D68) infected children recover without serious illness and no deaths have been reported throughout the multiple states reporting cases,” said Albert Rizzo, M.D., American Lung Association Senior Medical Advisor.
However, it is important for parents to understand that children with this infection who have asthma or a history of wheezing episodes are at higher risk for increased symptoms of shortness of breath and wheezing and are more likely to need specific treatment to address this problem. This means quick contact with their pediatrician or family doctor and even a trip to the emergency room, or a call to 911 is appropriate if respiratory distress is present,” said Dr. Rizzo.
The American Lung Association recommends that parents of children with asthma should note when a typical cold starts to be associated with wheezing or shortness of breath that prompts increased use of a rescue inhaler, drops in peak flows, more nocturnal difficulty with cough or wheezing. These are signs that they should seek medical attention.
“The main message is if your child’s symptoms are atypical from that of a common cold, check with your doctor sooner rather than later,” explained Dr. Rizzo.
To help protect yourself from EV-D68 and other respiratory illnesses, such as influenza, follow these steps:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid contact such as kissing, hugging, or sharing eating utensils or cups/glasses with people who are sick
- Disinfect surfaces that are touched frequently, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick
More information about EV-D68 can be found at www.lung.org. Guidance for the public and healthcare professionals can be found at the CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/non-polio-enterovirus/about/EV-D68.html?s_cid=cdc_homepage_whatsnew_001.
If you or someone you love needs immediate guidance about EV-D68, or other lung health issues, you can call the American Lung Association Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA or 1-800-586-4872 or go to http://www.lung.org/about-us/lung-helpline.html. The Lung HelpLine is staffed by registered nurses, respiratory therapists, certified tobacco treatment specialists and counselors who are ready to assist with your lung health questions and provide accurate information about lung cancer, asthma, COPD, quitting tobacco and multiple other lung health topics.
About the American Lung Association
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.lung.org.
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