Nurses say prevention is key to stop spread of Enterovirus

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JEFFERSON CITY - An Enterovirus, EV-D68, is spreading across the Midwest at a rapid pace. Before parents start to worry, they should know how to spot it and how to prevent it.

Enteroviruses are very common, and most are not significantly dangerous. EV-D68 is a rare type that can cause difficulty breathing and what appears to be similar to an asthma attack. Some patients are given an inhaler to help with their breathing.

The Communicable Disease Registered Nurse for the Cole County Health Department, Jaime Young, said at first the virus is usually hard to spot. Unfortunately, besides shortness of breath, she said most of the other symptoms are similar to a common cold.

"If parents do have kids with common cold symptoms, they need to monitor them," Young said. "If those symptoms do turn into wheezing or respiratory distress they should seek medical attention immediately."

Cindy Rozier said she noticed her son Brendan may have had the virus when she first heard respiratory distress.

"The cough was a dead give-away," Cindy said. "It was like night and day. In just a day he turned and got really bad."

Young said it is likely spread through secretions such as nasal mucus and saliva.

"It is likely that it is spread from person to person by sneezing, coughing, contaminated surfaces and that sort of thing," Young said.

The Cole County Health Department said prevention is key to slowing the spread of respiratory illness caused by Enterovirus D68.

Ways you can help prevent this virus are:

  • Frequent hand washing - at least 20 seconds
  • Disinfecting commonly touched areas such as door knobs and toys
  • Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Stay home when feeling sick and contact your health care provider

Both Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are monitoring the spread and impact of EV-D68 infections.