September 29, 2014

Understanding EV-D68 and Preventing Your Family From Catching It

Sending children back to school means lots of things. It means that summer is actually coming to an end (we like to focus on the fact that we have until September 21st for metrological fall to begin, so lets think of it that way). It means that children get to see all their friends and classmates again. And it means that germs are going to spread faster with all those kids together all day. Enter the Enterovirus D-68 or EV-D68.

EV-D68 will start out looking like a regular common cold with symptoms like sneezing, runny nose and coughing – some coughs are worse than others. Most of the people who have EV-D68 do not have fevers, but their cough might result in wheezing and trouble breathing. Research from WebMD says that patients will show signs of asthma even if they have never had it before. Children ages four to sixteen are most prone to catching the virus, which is no surprise since they are in school!

Surprisingly EV-D68 is not a new virus. It was discovered in 1962 and before this year only about 100 cases had been reported. This might be because of the lack of urban sprawl, plus it is hard to distinguish from a regular cold. This could be one reason why the medical community is puzzled by this recent outbreak and why doctors and nurses weren’t fully prepared for it.

So far this cold and flu season, thousands of children have already been infected by EV-D68. At a hospital in Atlanta, Georgia doctors reported 100 cases just over one week. In Kansas City, Missouri they’re averaging 30 cases a day coming into the hospitals.

Right now, most of the cases being reported are in the Southern and Midwestern regions. Unfortunately this rapidly spreading virus has no antibiotic since it is a virus and not a bacterial infection. The good news is that EV-D68 is not life threatening and can be treated like a cold. Patients with severe cases are being treated with supplemental oxygen and medications to help open air passages to their lungs.

In addition to the tried and true remedies of rest and lots of fluids, our good ole’ friend the humidifier could be an all-natural addition to EV-D68 prevention. Humidifiers supply soothing moisture to the air to help alleviate cold symptoms and clear out respiratory passages, making it easier to breath and reducing the wheezing and coughing that comes with having EV-D68. Even more critical is the effect that proper humidity levels can have on these micro organisms: the Center for Disease Control, along with other medical institutions, have recently published studies that suggest relative humidity of 43% and above can cause these germs to become bloated and fall to the ground. This immobilization makes it difficult for the diseases to survive and spread.

It’s important to mention that humidifiers need to be maintained properly. Keeping your humidifier fresh and clean is very easy! By dumping the water tank and the base after each day of use, caring for your humidifier becomes a breeze since buildup is greatly reduced. We also recommend a weekly disinfecting regiment using a few capfuls of white vinegar and water. Simply pour the mixture in to the water tank and base of the humidifier, give them a quick shake, and let sit for about 20 minutes before dumping and drying. Knowing that viruses like EV-D68 spread faster in dry air is reason enough to add a bit of moisture to the air in your home with a humidifier if you’re looking to keep your family healthy!


Since the end of August over 275 cases of EV-D68 were reported from people in 40 states. These numbers do not tell us how widespread the illness is in these 40 states, which include everyone except Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Nevada, Oregon, Tennessee and Vermont. Although this is considerably more cases than even last year when the country reported less than 20 cases, it is still under control and as we get further into the fall and winter the number of cases is likely to drop.

Babies, children and teens, especially those with asthma are most likely to get sick. Doctors are not for certain what the reason is for the outbreak this year, but one possibility is that entroviruses can change rapidly. That being said, this virus usually dies out in late September or October. Symptoms for EV-D68 look similar to a common cold, fever, runny nose, cough, chest pain, blue lips and body aches. For more information on avoiding a cold, flu or EV-D68 this fall follow these five easy suggestions. Be well!