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Enterovirus D68 Causing Serious Illness in Children

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Enterovirus D68 Causing Serious Illness in Children

As child care providers one of your many responsibilities is to stay abreast of infectious diseases that pose a possible risk to the children and families in your care. You may have noticed on national news outlets that there has been an outbreak of Enterovirus D68 or EV-D68 which has caused a significant number of children to become ill some requiring treatment in the hospital and for some in intensive care units. As of this date, the virus has been reported in 21 states, including New York.
One of the reasons this virus is so concerning is that it spreads similar to the common cold and the symptoms start like the common cold, but for some children it progresses very rapidly to severe difficulty breathing. The majority of children experiencing severe illness are those with underlying respiratory illness such as asthma or a history of wheezing, but not all. Interestingly, very few of the children hospitalized with the severe respiratory symptoms had fevers.
In response to the spread of this illness there are a few things you should do to prepare your child care program:
1) Update the children’s emergency contact information and ‘permission to treat’ and discuss emergency plans with families.
2) Establish written ‘emergency action plans’ for children with asthma or other respiratory illness so you know how to respond in a breathing emergency. Children with a history of wheezing or breathing difficulties appear to be at highest risk.
3) Establish and practice excellent infection control practices. One that is frequently overlooked is handwashing whenever anyone enters your program.
4) Review your daily health check procedures and exclusion criteria with parents.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there is no vaccine or specific anti-viral treatment for EV-D68 at this time. The best ways to protect yourself and others are:
• Handwashing for at least 20 seconds with warm, soapy water
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
• Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with sick people
• Disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as toys, doorknobs, and appliance handles, especially if someone is sick
• Boost your immune system by eating nutritious meals and snacks, getting regular exercise, and getting a good night’s sleep
When frightening new illnesses are in the news, it is important to focus on the areas that we have control over and that can make a difference in preventing illness and in responding appropriately should a child become seriously ill.

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