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Living Well

Respiratory Virus in the News

Last updated: Sep 12, 2014


Current news emphasizes an outbreak
of the human enterovirus 68 (HEV68).

Although it is primarily affecting people
in the midwestern United States,
Summit Medical Group recommends preventive measures
to help you avoid the disease
and medical support if you experience symptoms.

Symptoms of HEV68 can include:

  • Cough
  • Body and muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing and difficulty breathing in severe cases

Most HEV68 infections are likely to be mild and have symptoms like that of a common cold. In addition, the virus will often resolve on its own in people who are in overall good health and who get proper rest, fluids, and good nutrition. Young children, the elderly, and people who have a weakened immune system, however, are more likely to have complications associated with the HEV68 virus.

HEV68 is spread through saliva and mucus. For this reason, it is possible to get HEV68 from being near an infected person who is coughing and sneezing as well as from contact with contaminated surfaces.

Although the current HEV68 outbreak
is not the first time the virus has made some people sick,
the higher number of recent cases
emphasizes the importance of hygiene practices
to help prevent spread of the disease.

To prevent getting and spreading HEV68 or any other cold / respiratory virus:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in public, changing diapers, and spending time with anyone who has cold symptoms
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth before thoroughly washing your hands
  • Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing drinking glasses, straws, and untensils, especially with people who have symptoms
  • Disinfect door knobs and other surfaces such as toys
  • Wash towels, sheets, and pillow cases with hot water and detergent
  • Change your tooth brush if you have been sick; do not share toothbrushes

In some cases, HEV68 has increased hospitalizations in children with asthma, recurrent wheezing, and other respiratory problems. Albeit rare, some patients infected with HEV68 experienced respiratory failure that require intensive care, including a ventilator to improve breathing.

People with asthma are at higher risk for respiratory illnesses and related complications. For this reason, they should take medications as prescribed and talk with a doctor if they are having symptoms of the HEV68 or any respiratory virus.

If you have symptoms of respiratory virus
and you are having difficulty breathing,
you may visit our Urgent Care Center
or the nearest emergency department.

Although there are no medications to treat HEV68, Summit Medical Group physicians recommend that patients get their influenza vaccines and follow good hygiene to avoid getting and spreading HEV68, other respiratory viruses, and the flu.

If you believe you have HEV68
or another respiratory virus,
see your Summit Medical Group
internist or family medicine physician.

Children with respiratory virus symptoms
should see their Summit Medical Group pediatrician
or pediatric pulmonologist.

For answers to additional questions about HEV68,
click here to visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention website.