Mystery Virus Spreading Across US Is Enterovirus D68

States reporting EV-D68 as of Sept. 19, 2014. Image from For more on the outbreaks and states involved, click the map.

[T]he headlines that populate my news feed these days appear to be crafted to frighten and obfuscate rather than inform. Sadly, such is true about the headlines regarding nearly all topics lately, but it is especially true of a respiratory virus that is gaining a strong foothold in our nation. It is not a mystery, it is Enterovirus D-68, abbreviated as EV-D68.

An enterovirus is a type of RNA-based invader that loves to lodge in human respiratory passages. One particularly nasty type of EV caused polio (poliomyelitis virus), but EV-D68 is not a polio-inducing sort. However, its effects can cause polio-like symptoms, which is why it is so important that parents keep sharp eyes on any child suffering from a cold or flu-like illness.

So far, EV-D68 has been isolated in 160 children 22 states.  The symptoms are similar to common colds, but if you or your child is at risk due to an suppressed immune system, or if either of you has asthma, be sure to see a doctor asap:

  • Mild symptoms may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches.
  • Most of the children who got very ill with EV-D68 infection in Missouri and Illinois had difficulty breathing, and some had wheezing. Many of these children had asthma or a history of wheezing.

Up until now, EV-D68 has not been on the list of reportable diseases, so the CDC is not sure just how many cases there may have been in the past, but this year’s outbreak certainly has the government agency sitting up and taking notice.  Treatment for EV-D68 is generally treating symptoms, since there is not antiviral.  But be sure NOT to use aspirin in young children since it has been linked to Reye’s Syndrome.

For more information on enteroviruses and especially EV-D68, go to the CDC website.

Non-Polio Enterovirus Infection: Enterovirus D68 EV-D68 – CDC.