Hundreds of children in at least ten states have taken ill with a respiratory virus that has parents and health care providers concerned. One hospital in Denver reported seeing 900 children within a two-week period and more than 85 required hospitalization. Dr. Jessica Snowden is a Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha and hopes to clear some of the fear that is circulating about this virus.
Dr. Snowden says this virus is called enterovirus 68 and is related to the common cold. Colds are typical this time of year and spread easy because school is back in session. She says this virus typically causes more wheezing than the typical cold, fever may last a bit longer and it could cause an upset stomach or a rash. Not every child needs to be seen by a doctor and can be treated at home but if there is a lot of wheezing or trouble breathing than medical care may be needed.
Doctors are seeing more cases in younger children and those with asthma. Dr. Snowden says children with asthma should always be watched carefully when it comes to respiratory illness. She suggests parents have a discussion with their doctor and develop a care plan that identifies when they should get extra care. Dr. Snowden says any virus in a younger child will seem a lot worse that it is because their nasal passages are smaller.
Dr. Snowden it is also a good idea for parents to remind their children to use good sanitary practices to prevent any virus from spreading. These include washing hands, sneezing and coughing into the elbow instead of hands and try to avoid those who are sick. Dr. Snowden says if your child becomes ill it is a good idea to use the standard practice and keep the child home 24 hours with no fever.