Enterovirus – the Illness That Takes Your Breath Away!

In Blog, Infections, Women's Health Topics by Dr. Gary Goldman

It starts off like a simple cold – but then the kids can’t breathe! Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is currently making its way across our nation in a large outbreak across a dozen states. What can you do to prevent it? How will you recognize it?

First reported in Kansas City and Chicago in August, EV-D68 has been marching its way across the mid-west. It has not yet been reported in New York – but we are closely monitoring for its arrival. Most of those affected are children, two-thirds of whom have a prior history of asthma. Many of those who catch EV-D68 will have a minor illness, but some may require hospitalization and intensive respiratory support. There is no specific treatment for these infections – only supportive care. There is neither a vaccine nor specific anti-viral therapy.

Symptoms start off like a cold, but quickly develop into: difficulty breathing, wheezing, and low oxygen levels. Most patients remarkably have no fever.

EV-D68 is likely spread between people when an ill person coughs, sneezes or contaminates a surface by touching it. In order to prevent transmission, the NYS Dept of Health recommends thorough hand washing, respiratory etiquette, and surface disinfection:
– Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers
– Avoid touching eyes, noses and mouths with unwashed hands
– Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are ill
– Cover mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing
– Disinfect frequently commonly touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially when someone is ill.

Unfortunately, alcohol-based compounds like Purell likely will not kill this virus. Cleaning with a quarternary ammonium based disinfectant works, but these solutions can be irritating and eventually toxic – use them with caution, on surfaces likely to be contaminated. Examples of these products include: Pine-Sol Cleaner and Antibacterial, Fantastik All Purpose Cleaner, and Clorox Broad Spectrum Quaternary Disinfectant Cleaner.

Unlike bleach and bleach-based compounds, these products can be used to both clean and sanitize a surface; however, they need a much longer contact time with a soiled surface and, once sprayed on, should be allowed to remain for 10 minutes before being wiped off. Most household products should be rinsed before food is placed on the surface. Check product labels for directions for use.

For more information on EV-D68, read here:

http://www.cdc.gov/non-polio-enterovirus/about/EV-D68.html