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Protecting your family from EV-D68

Main Line Health September 15, 2014 General Wellness

As this year’s strand of the enterovirus begins to make its way into the northeast region—more than 20 cases were recently detected in Delaware—many parents are left wondering how they can prepare their children for a virus they know little about.

However, Katherine King, MD, pediatric pulmonologist at Nemours Pediatric Specialists and Bryn Mawr Hospital, Main Line Health, assures parents that enteroviruses are nothing new.

“There are more than 100 different types of enteroviruses, and they usually occur during the summer and fall, so it makes sense that we’re seeing this now,” she says. “But EV-D68, which is the strain of the enterovirus that we’re seeing recently, is very rare.”

Although EV-D68 initially presents as a cold, it transitions quickly into a lower respiratory illness, marked by symptoms like quick, shallow breathing, wheezing and, in some cases, fever. And while the severity of cases will vary, treatment for EV-D68 won’t necessarily be as simple as an antibiotic and bed rest. Some patients, particularly those at a higher risk because of asthma, are hospitalized for treatment.

So what can parents and childcare personnel do to protect children from being exposed to EV-D68?

“Unfortunately, there’s no specific way to prevent this virus from spreading,” says Dr. King. “The traditional routine of washing hands, regularly disinfecting communal surfaces, and avoiding sharing utensils or cups is the best way to protect yourself and your family.”

Still, especially in schools and during after-school activities, there’s no way to guarantee that these guidelines are being followed. If you notice your child experiencing cold symptoms and difficulty breathing, make an appointment with your physician.

“I’ve had parents tell me that they feel bad for not recognizing it sooner,” says Dr. King. “There’s no way to know that cold symptoms could turn into something more serious, but that’s why it’s so important to keep an eye out for any respiratory changes and let your doctor know right away.”

By teaming up with Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, we are able to provide specialty pediatric care at Bryn Mawr Hospital, the Nemours duPont Pediatrics, the Main Line Health Newtown Square, and duPont Hospital for Children. Visit our website to learn more about this partnership and Main Line Health’s pediatric emergency medicine services.