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What You Need to Know about Enterovirus D68

You’ve probably heard news reports about cases of Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) in King County and other parts of the country. What do you know about this illness? What do you need to know to protect yourself? We asked those questions to Dr. Gina Cadena-Forney, Providence Medical Group family medicine physician in Snohomish. Here’s what she told us.

EV-D68 is an uncommon virus. It’s more likely to occur in the fall than other times of the year. And, infants, children and teens are infected with it more often than other age groups. Children with asthma or other chronic respiratory issues have a greater risk of developing a severe case of EV-D68.

EV-D68 infection – which was first identified in 1962 – has been associated almost exclusively with respiratory illness (cough, runny nose, congestion, fever, difficulty breathing), ranging from relatively mild illness not requiring hospitalization to severe illness requiring intensive care and mechanical ventilation.

The virus likely spreads person-to-person when an infected person coughs, sneezes or touches surfaces. There’s no vaccine or specific therapy for EV-D68 other than supportive care and management of symptoms and complications.

How to Protect Yourself

“Protecting yourself from Enterovirus D68 is a lot like protecting yourself from other contagious illnesses like the flu or the common cold,” Dr. Cadena-Forney said. “The keys are general respiratory and hand hygiene.”

She recommends:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs – especially if someone is sick
  • Cover coughs or sneezes
  • If you’re sick, stay home from work or school


Have Additional Questions?

If you have additional questions about EV-D68, leave a comment below or talk to your primary care provider.

Topics: NW Washington


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