An Outbreak of This Life-Threatening Condition Is Expected

An Outbreak of This Life-Threatening Condition Is Expected (Hint: It's Not COVID)

( – A rare but devastating virus has been making its way through the country, slowly but steadily gaining more momentum each year. When it strikes children, it can cause terrifying, life-threatening complications.

A close relative of the culprits behind hand, foot and mouth disease and polio, Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) could be the nation’s next big threat. Here’s what every parent and caregiver needs to know.

Rare but Deadly Complications

According to Medline, EV-D68 was extremely uncommon in the United States until 2014, when almost every state experienced cases. Since then, the disease has become increasingly common, and because last year’s numbers were so high, the CDC has some concerns that a massive outbreak could be ahead. We’ve only seen 25 confirmed cases this year, so the worst of this illness might still be on its way.

EV-D68 infections are usually mild or nonexistent in adults, but in children, the virus can cause a broad range of illnesses. Symptoms, which can include fever, cough, body aches, sneezing and runny nose, may look similar to other, more common respiratory infections. Children with asthma may experience wheezing and difficulty breathing severe enough to merit hospitalization.

Roughly 1 in 100 children who become symptomatic develop complications that resemble those of polio. Over half of these patients wind up in an ICU, with one-quarter needing the help of a ventilator to breathe. So far, EV-D68 has only caused a few confirmed deaths, but that could change if the virus becomes more common.

Prevention Tips

Because EV-D68 is a viral infection that can spread through coughs and sneezes, the best way to avoid it is to steer clear of people who appear ill. Never share cups or utensils with other people, and regularly sanitize countertops, light switches, toilet handles and other high-traffic areas. Wash hands frequently using soap and warm water, and make sure the kiddos know to do the same.

Many children develop only minor symptoms, so it can be hard to distinguish milder cases from a cold or the flu. Don’t take any chances with young children or kids of any age who have asthma; what presents as a fever and runny nose in one child could mean a ventilator to another.

EV-D68 isn’t a household name, but it’s a virus everyone with children should know. It could be getting more common in the years to come. Isn’t it best we make sure we’re ready?

~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension

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