Good Hygiene is Best Protection Against 'Enteroviruses'

The best protection for children against highly-contagious viral infections is good hygiene, says the Florida Department of Health in an advisory to parents after the state’s first confirmed case of the Enterovirus D68 was made public this week.

A 10-year-old girl is recovering in Polk County from the viral infection that has been diagnosed in children across the nation. Enterovirus D68, or EV-D68, is highly contagious and causes difficulty in breathing in infants and children, according to Florida health officials. EV-D68 is often mistaken for a common cold or the flu.

‘Now More Than Ever’
“It’s important now more than ever for adults and children to practice proper hygiene,” said Barbara Russell, R.N., director of Infection Prevention and Control Services for Baptist Hospital. “The most common way that the flu and enteroviruses are spread is by people coughing into their hands and then shaking hands, or by leaving germs on hard surfaces where someone else can get them on their hands.”

The Florida Department of Health is advising parents, childcare workers and healthcare professionals to be vigilant for respiratory illnesses, including enteroviruses and influenza (the flu).

“Those having cold-like or flu-like symptoms should stay home from child care centers, school or work and, if possible, remain apart from other family members,” said Dr. Celeste Philip, Florida’s Deputy Secretary for Health and Deputy State Health Officer for Children’s Medical Services, in a statement.

EV-D68 can cause difficulty in breathing in infants and young children. EV-D68 spreads much like the flu and “RSV” (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) a virus that causes infections of the lungs and respiratory tract. EV-D68 could spread through droplets in coughs or sneezes. It can also spread easily when someone touches a contaminated surface, such as like a countertop or doorknob.

Hand-washing and Disinfectants Recommended
Frequent hand washing and non-alcohol surface disinfectants are recommended by the Florida Health Department. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers and disinfectants have not been found to be effective against EV-D68, health officials say.

Adults and older children might have only mild symptoms, such as a cough, stuffy nose and low-grade fever.

The most susceptible to EV-D68 are people with asthma, particularly children. They have an increased risk for infection from EV-D68, which can be serious enough to require hospitalization.

Preventive Measures
According to the Florida Department of Health, here are other preventive measures that can be taken:

  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or elbow;
  • Avoid sharing cups and eating utensils;
  • Refrain from kissing those with symptoms;
  • Frequently clean potentially contaminated surfaces (doorknobs, countertops, tables, toys, etc.) using a bleach solution (1 part bleach and 9 parts water).
    Call the doctor if you or your child has any of these symptoms:

  • wheezing
  • trouble breathing
  • high fever with ill appearance
  • thick nasal discharge
  • signs of dehydration
    See related blog posts:
    Germy Checkpoints: At Home and Work
    Infection Protection

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