Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68)
Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is one of more than 100 non-polio enteroviruses. EV-D68 virus was first identified in the USA in 1962.
Enteroviruses are a common cause of human disease and can cause mild to severe respiratory illness. A mix of enteroviruses circulates in different areas of the world every year. These viruses are a frequent cause of summer and autumn ‘colds’.
EV-D68 spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches a surface that is then touched by others. It may also spread through contact with an infected person’s faeces (poo).
EV-D68 has been detected rarely in New Zealand.
EV-D68 can cause mild to severe respiratory illness.
In general, infants, children, and teenagers are most likely to become ill from infection with enteroviruses, due to their lack of immunity from previous exposures to these viruses. This is also true for EV-D68. Adults can become infected with EV-D68, but they are more likely to have no symptoms or mild symptoms.
- Mild symptoms may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches.
- Severe symptoms may include wheezing and difficulty breathing.
- Children with asthma may have a higher risk of developing severe respiratory illness caused by EV-D68 infection.
- A small number of people infected with EV-D68 have suffered neurological illness characterized by limb weakness, cranial nerve dysfunction, or both.
- In the 2014 outbreak in the United States and Canada, many cases required hospitalisation, and the virus was detected in specimens taken from 12 children who died.
There are no specific treatments or antiviral medications for people with illness caused by EV-D68. If symptoms become severe enough, infected people may need to be hospitalised.
You can help prevent yourself from getting and spreading EV-D68 and other respiratory illnesses by following these steps:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, and use hand sanitizer when you can’t wash.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or shirt sleeve, not your hands.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact such as hugging, kissing, or sharing cups or utensils with people who are sick.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, especially if someone is sick.
There are no vaccines for preventing EV-D68 infection.