Cases of a respiratory illness known as Enterovirus D68 have been reported in a growing number of states, with infants, children and teenagers most likely to become ill from the virus. As of September 16, the virus has been confirmed in 12 states, including New Jersey.
Enterovirus D68 can cause mild to severe respiratory illness. Other symptoms may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and muscle and body aches. The virus can be found in an infected person’s saliva, nasal mucus or sputum. It spreads from person to person when someone who is infected coughs, sneezes or when someone touches a contaminated surface.
People experiencing difficulty breathing should see their health care provider. Those with known respiratory illnesses such as asthma are reminded to take their medications and seek care if they experience any problems.
By taking simple steps people can help prevent the spread of the Enterovirus D68.
1. Wash your hands frequently.
Use soap and water and wash vigorously for at least 20 seconds. If you are in a public restroom, turn off the faucet with a paper towel. Use another paper towel to dry your hands and to open the door as you exit. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used if soap and water are unavailable.
2. Always cough or sneeze into a tissue.
Use the crook of your elbow or upper arm if you don’t have one. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands to prevent spreading germs.
3. Disinfect commonly touched surfaces.
Disinfecting items, such as phones, computers, doorknobs, switches and toys will help prevent the virus from spreading. Avoid contact and sharing utensils, cups and bottles with people who are sick.
4. If you are sick, stay home from school or work to avoid spreading the virus.
FLU SEASON IS AROUND THE CORNER
While flu vaccinations do not prevent the Enterovirus D68, flu season is fast approaching and now is a good time to get your annual flu shot.
Learn how to care for loved ones who are ill by taking Red Cross training courses. Our online Family First Aid and Pediatric CPR course includes lessons on how to respond to respiratory and cardiac emergencies. For more information and for register visit www.redcross.org/take-a-class. Flu prevention tips can be found in the free Red Cross First Aid App and at redcross.org.