What Is Enterovirus D68?

Reviewed on 10/25/2021

Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is a common illness, and infants, children, and teenagers especially are at risk because of inadequate immunity. Enterovirus causes cold-like symptoms such as runny nose, fever, sneezing, cough, body aches, muscle aches, and wheezing and difficulty breathing (in extreme cases).
Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is a common illness, and infants, children, and teenagers especially are at risk because of inadequate immunity. Enterovirus causes cold-like symptoms such as runny nose, fever, sneezing, cough, body aches, muscle aches, and wheezing and difficulty breathing (in extreme cases).

Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is one of more than 100 non-polio enteroviruses.

  • In the United States, infection with enteroviruses is more likely to occur in the summer and fall, though infection can occur year-round. 
  • A mix of enteroviruses circulates each year, and different types of enteroviruses may occur in different years. The number of cases of enterovirus D68 identified in the U.S. varies from year to year. Outbreaks of EV-D68 have been detected August through November in 2014, 2016, and 2018. 
  • Infants, children, and teenagers are at higher risk of infection with EV-D68 because they do not yet have adequate immunity from previous exposures to these viruses.
  • Children with asthma may also have a higher risk for severe respiratory illness from EV-D68 infection.

What Are Symptoms of Enterovirus D68?

Symptoms of enterovirus D68 can range from mild to severe, though some people may not develop any symptoms. When symptoms occur, they often resemble the common cold and may include: 

  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Sneezing
  • Cough
  • Body aches
  • Muscle aches
  • Wheezing and difficulty breathing, in severe cases

Seek immediate medical attention if any of these symptoms occur following a respiratory illness:

  • Arm or leg weakness
  • Pain in the neck, back, arms, or legs
  • Difficulty swallowing 
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty moving the eyes or drooping eyelids
  • Facial droop or weakness

What Causes Enterovirus D68?

The enterovirus D68 can be found in an infected person’s respiratory secretions, such as saliva, nasal mucus, or sputum, and it is transmitted from person-to-person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches a surface that is then touched by others.

How Is Enterovirus D68 Diagnosed?

Enterovirus D68 is diagnosed with a patient history and physical examination, however EV-D68 can only be diagnosed with specific lab tests on specimens from a person’s nose and throat, or blood. 

  • While many hospitals and some doctor’s offices can test to see if patients have enterovirus infections, most are not able to perform specific testing to determine the type of enterovirus, such as EV-D68.
  • While people may be diagnosed with an enterovirus infection, most of the time, they will not know they specifically have an enterovirus D68 infection.
  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and some state health departments can do this kind of specific testing using a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) lab test.

What Is the Treatment for Enterovirus D68?

There is no specific treatment for enterovirus D68 infection. EV-D68 usually goes away on its own.

Antibiotics are not used to treat EV-D68 infection because it is caused by a virus, and there are no antiviral medications available to treat people infected with EV-D68.

EV-D68 is treated like a regular cold, and treatment is usually aimed at relief of symptoms and may include: 

Hospitalization may be needed in cases of severe respiratory illness. Treatment in the hospital may include oxygen or other treatments to help the child breathe. 

How Do You Prevent Enterovirus D68?

There is no vaccine currently available to prevent enterovirus D68 infection. To prevent the spread of the virus: 

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom
  • Frequently disinfect tabletops, toys, and other things a child might touch
  • If you think your child might have EV-D68 or another contagious illness, keep him or her home from school and away from other people
  • Teach your child to cover sneezes and coughs
  • Avoid touching people who are sick, and do not share glasses or eating utensils

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Reviewed on 10/25/2021
References
Image Source: Violeta Stoimenova/Getty Images

https://www.cdc.gov/non-polio-enterovirus/about/ev-d68.html

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/enterovirus-d68-the-basics?search=Treatment%20for%20Enterovirus%20D68&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~14&usage_type=default&display_rank=1