Prevent EV-D68? Wash Those Hands!

by Pam Dillon

Does somebody in your family have a case of the sniffles? Yesterday, I visited my youngest for the first time since he went away to school. I was thrilled to see his beautiful face and to know he is happy with this new life-and-learning adventure. Not so thrilling?

He said he has a bit of a cold. At least I hope it’s just a cold.  The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has released a statement about Enterovirus EV-D68.

Have you heard about it? This virus can cause respiratory illness that ranges from mild to serious. Infants, kids and teens are most vulnerable and it has been reported that kids with asthma tend to have a higher risk for getting quite sick.

Symptoms may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches. If it progresses, more severe symptoms may include wheezing and difficulty breathing.

According to the national health agency, “Enteroviruses, such as EV-D68, are related to the common cold virus and can spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing, by close contact with infected persons or by touching a contaminated surface.”

Four EV-D68 cases have been confirmed at CHEO, but all those kids have recovered. And although there’s no vaccine against the virus, there is plenty you can do to prevent it.

As the PHAC statement notes, “The most effective measures you can do to protect yourself and children against enteroviruses such as EV-D68 are:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer.
  • Wash your hands:
  1. before and after eating
  2. after you have been in a public place
  3. after using the washroom
  4. after coughing and sneezing
  5. after touching common surfaces

  • Cough and sneeze into your arm, not your hand.
  • Keep your hands away from your face.
  • Keep common surface areas clean and disinfected.
  • If you get sick, stay home.
  • Ensure your immunizations are up to date.
  • Eat healthy foods and be physically active to keep your immune system strong.”
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