5 things you need to know about enterovirus D 68

Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer is advising parents to be aware of a respiratory virus that has been linked to hundreds of sick children in the U.S.

Respiratory virus serious but not a worry, health official says

Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer is advising parents to be aware of a respiratory virus that has been linked to dozens of cases of sick children in the U.S.

Hundreds of children in the U.S. Midwest have been sent to hospital after falling ill with what’s thought to be a rare respiratory virus known as enterovirus D 68.

Dr. Saqib Shahab, from the Ministry of Health, told CBC News Tuesday that parents should watch for symptoms of the ailment, especially in children with other medical issues such as asthma.

He said if a child is having difficulty breathing, they should see a doctor.

Shahab added that other symptoms of the virus resemble those associated with the common cold — a runny nose and coughing. He said if children are eating and sleeping regularly they likely don't need to see a doctor and the virus can be treated the same as a cold; with rest, nutrition and hydration.

"It's just a strain of the enterovirus that at this point seems to be causing a bit more serious illness in children," Shahab said of the outbreak in the U.S. "I think it's important to note that it's not the kind of thing that's causing deaths in children. It's just causing a worsening of asthma and other symptoms, requiring a few days of hospital care."

He said there have been no reported cases of enterovirus D 68 in Saskatchewan as of Tuesday.

Here are five things you need to know about enterovirus D 68:

  1. Most children will be be asymptomatic or will have a runny nose or cough, like a common cold.
  2. More serious symptoms include wheezing, trouble breathing and children not eating. Parents should seek immediate medical attention if their children have these symptoms.
  3. Children with asthma and children under six months are more susceptible. They should see a doctor if they have persistent fevers, coughs or display any trouble breathing.
  4. No children have died during the recent outbreak in the U.S.
  5. There is no vaccination for the virus. Treatment includes keeping a child at home to prevent the spread of the virus and administering plenty of fluids and nutrition and ensuring the child gets lots of rest.


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