Communicable Diseases - Enterovirus D-68

Communicable Disease Prevention and Control

Enterovirus D-68

A number of US states have recently reported clusters of severe respiratory illness with increases in hospital and ICU admissions caused by Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68). There are confirmed cases in BC, Alberta and Ontario. Other provinces can expect to have cases in the near future.

What is Enterovirus D68?

Enterovirus D68 is one of more than 100 types of enteroviruses. Human infections are common and typically mild. The virus usually circulates in the summer and fall. Previous clusters of EV-D68 have occurred mainly in the fall.

What are the symptoms?

In general, infants, children and teenagers are most likely to get ill with enteroviruses. It can cause mild to severe respiratory illness. The mild illness involves typical cold symptoms.

The majority of EV-D68 infections are likely to be mild. Some clusters have caused increased rates of hospitalization and ICU admissions. Children with asthma seem to have a higher risk of severe respiratory illness.

There is no vaccine or specific treatment enteroviruses.

How do you distinguish it from the common cold?

Mild cases are usually indistinguishable from the common cold and should be treated with the same care – get plenty of rest and fluids, wash your hands frequently, cover your cough, and so on. If there is wheezing or shortness of breath, it might be EV-D68 and medical attention should be sought.

How is it spread?

EV-D68 is spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing, by close contact with infected people, or by touching a contaminated surface.

Are there any prevention steps?

The same simple precautions for preventing colds and the flu also apply to preventing enteroviruses:

  • Frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and warm water. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer.
  • Cough and sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue, not your hand.
  • Keep your hands away from your face.
  • Keep common surface areas clean and disinfected.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill and if you get sick, stay home.
  • Eat healthy foods, be physically active and get adequate sleep to keep your immune system as healthy as possible.

When is testing recommended?

Testing for EV-D68 should only be considered for an individual hospitalized with severe respiratory illness.

Is there a cure?

Much like the common cold or the flu, there is no cure for EV-D68. You can ease the symptoms and help your body recover by getting plenty of rest and fluids and taking acetaminophen for fever.