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Enterovirus 68 and Asthma

What is enterovirus 68?
Enterovirus 68 (EV-68) is a virus that was first identified in California in 1962. It has not been commonly diagnosed in the United States.

What are the symptoms of EV-68 infection?
The illness can be mild or more serious. EV-68 can cause fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches. More serious illness may cause difficulty breathing and wheezing. Parents of children with asthma should monitor their child closely for symptoms and contact the child's doctor if their child's asthma or wheezing is worse than usual or is not getting better.

If my child gets any of these symptoms, does that mean my child has EV-68?
No. Respiratory illness can be caused by many different germs, but many can have the same symptoms. Not all respiratory illnesses are caused by EV-68. Anyone with respiratory illness should contact their doctor if they are having difficulty breathing, or if their symptoms are getting worse.

How does EV-68 affect people with asthma?
Symptoms from EV-68 can be more severe in people with asthma. People with asthma are also more likely to require hospitalization if they get infected.

How does the germ spread?
The virus is in an infected person's saliva, nasal mucus, or sputum (spit). The germ can spread to another person when the infected person coughs or sneezes. The germ can also spread when someone touches a contaminated surface then touches his or her eyes, mouth, or nose.

Who is at risk?
So far, infants, children, and teenagers have been more likely to get EV-68. Children with asthma have been more likely to develop severe respiratory illness.

How is EV-68 diagnosed?
EV-68 can only be diagnosed by doing a specific laboratory test on samples, usually taken from a person's nose or throat. Later in the illness, other types of specimens can be tested.

What is the treatment for EV-68?
There are no medicines available that specifically treat EV-68.  For mild illness, over-the-counter medicines can be used to reduce fever and treat pain. Aspirin should not be given to children. Some people with severe respiratory illness may need to be hospitalized. If you are unsure what to do, contact your child's doctor.

Is there a vaccine?
No. There are no vaccines for preventing EV-68 infections.

How can I help protect myself and my family?

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers. Hand washing is preferable to hand sanitizers, which are not as effective at killing this type of germ.
  • 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.

For people with asthma

  • Continue to take asthma medications as prescribed.
  • Have an asthma control plan in place with your health care provider in cases of infection or if asthma worsens.
  • Contact your health care provider immediately if symptoms worsen despite treatment.
  • If you or your child are ill, please contact your doctor.​​
Boston Public Health Commission
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