Enterovirus D-68 (EV-D68) has been around since 1962, but has hit the headlines again recently because there have been 38 cases of it in the UK already this year.

Although there have been no reported deaths so far over here, 14 patients died from EV-D68 in 2014 in the US, where more than a thousand cases have been found, mostly in children – and it has left more than 100 children paralysed.
 
 
It’s not the first time EV-D68 has been found in the UK, as Public Health England report, but it does seem to be on the increase:
 
“Low numbers of EV-D68 have been detected annually in the UK, with seven cases in 2012 and three cases in 2013.”
 
However, it adds that the rise in the number of cases may be due to increased awareness of the virus and testing for it.
 
 

What is enterovirus D68?

Public Health England says: “It is one of more than 100 non-polio enteroviruses. EV-D68 can cause mild to severe respiratory illness requiring ventilatory support and has been associated with cases and clusters of polio-like neurological symptoms, including paralysis and meningo-encephalitis.”
 
EV-D68 is thought to be spread by droplets containing the virus being inhaled when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or by touching a surface that an infected person has touched after coughing or sneezing into their hand, for example.
 
The incubation period is three to five days.
 
Of the 38 cases found in the UK, the majority were in spring and summer and Public Health England adds: “The majority of these cases are sporadic and have presented with respiratory symptoms resulting in hospital admission. A small number presented with neurological signs and symptoms.”
 
 

What are the symptoms of enterovirus D68?

Symptoms range from mild to more serious and include:
 
- coughing
- sneezing
- fever
- runny nose
- aches and pains
- wheezing
- having difficulty breathing
 

Is there a treatment?

Public Health England says: “There is no specific vaccine or treatment for EV-D68, clinical and public health management is similar to that of other acute respiratory infections, or unexplained neurological illness.”
 
There are plenty of ways to prevent the spread of viruses, including hand washing, covering your mouth with your hand when you cough or sneeze and then immediately washing hands or using hand sanitizer, and keeping sick children home from school.
 
Always visit your GP if you have any concerns about your health or those of your family members.
 
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