Children across the country are falling ill with a virus that's sending many of them to the hospital. With school being back in session, parents are right to be worried. While types of enterovirus are common during the summer months (think summer cold) and Enterovirus D68 in particular has been around since the 1960s, it is not a common virus. Since the 1960s, only 100 cases have been reported. This month alone, hundreds of cases have been reported and many of them are serious.

The Symptoms

Enterovirus D68 presents very much like the common cold. Symptoms will include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny Nose
  • Cough

Severe symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe cough
  • Rash
  • Fever
  • Wheezing

You should keep your children out of school if they present cold symptoms and call the doctor if a fever, rash or other severe symptoms occur. Children, infants, and teens are more at risk than adults because their immune systems are not as built up from previous viruses as adults' are. Children with asthma, cystic fibrosis, or a history of respiratory troubles are particularly susceptible for severe symptoms of the virus.

The Locations

While as of September 9, only 12 states are listed as having confirmed cases of Enterovirus D68, the virus could be anywhere. Doctors are able to test for the virus, but there is no telling who is infected and doesn't yet know it.

The Plan

The best way to protect your family from Enterovirus D68 is to use common sense precautions.

  • Wash your hands properly for 20 seconds (teach children to sing their ABCs while washing) with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom and changing diapers.
  • Use hand sanitizer or wash hands before eating.
  • Avoid touching your face, including your eyes.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces especially toys, doorknobs, light switches, and remotes.
  • Avoid shaking hands, kissing, hugging, sharing cups or utensils.
  • Stay home if you have any symptoms.

No one wants their children to be sick, but children of parents with children who are at a higher risk for complications from Enterovirus D68 are especially frightened by this virus. Keeping your children home when they present respiratory symptoms will help keep other children safe until the spreading of this virus is under control.