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Enterovirus D-68: The 'Other' Major Viral Problem


As local officials try to contain Ebola in Dallas, another virus has swept much of the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or state labs have confirmed nearly 800 cases of Enterovirus D-68, most of them in children.

There are dozens of enteroviruses ranging from the common cold to hand, foot and mouth disease to meningitis and gastrointestinal illness.

In this edition of KERA's consumer health series, Vital Signs, Dr. Jane Sadler, a family physician in Garland focusing on women’s and children’s health care with Baylor Healthcare, says the D-68 strain has a specific target.

From the interview with Dr. Sadler…

What’s unique about the strain:Enterovirus D-68 can cause – especially in young children, in pregnant women, in people with lower immune systems, and in kids with asthma – an extreme exacerbation, or what we call “worsening” of asthma or respiratory symptoms. And they can land them in the intensive care unit of pediatric hospitals

Why has it spread so quickly? This form of enterovirus, for some reason, has mutated to a much more severe form of the virus and has just propagated among the states and caused more problems than we’ve seen in the past.

Ways to prevent D-68: Good hand washing. Don’t put your hands on your face as much as possible. Wash your hands after you use the restroom. And for heaven’s sake, go to your doctor and get you flu shot (to prevent secondary complications like flu and bacterial infections).

For more information:

CDC: EnterovirusD68in the United States, 2014 

4 Things We’ve Learned About EnterovirusD68, And one Mystery 

Enterovirus D-68: What Parents Need To Know 

Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.