SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A virus that has been dormant for the last few autumn seasons is resurfacing and causing an outbreak, especially among children.
Enterovirus 68 is a strain of virus that causes severe respiratory illnesses for children, especially children who have asthma and other lung conditions. In 10 states, the virus has hospitalized hundreds of children, most of whose immune systems were weakened by or existing asthma and lung problems.
22 news spoke with Dr. Susan Harp, a pediatrician in West Springfield, and a member of the Pediatrics Associates of Hampden County. Dr. Harp says the virus is as contagious as the common cold, and millions of people contract the virus in a mild form.
One parent told 22 News she’s worried her children could catch Enterovirus 68.
“Both of my kids have asthma so I do worry about them getting a virus and not knowing what it is, thinking it’s still asthma but it could be something else,” says Astrid Silva of Springfield.
Dr. Harp says the symptoms of the virus are wheezing and breathing problems, rather than a headache or a stomach ache like the common cold can cause. The virus is treatable and lasts about one week.
Dr. Harp says there are things you and your family can do to avoid catching this virus.
She says the most important thing to do is wash your hands regularly and lather a good amount with soap. Handwashing is more effective than antiseptic products, because it is a regular and mild way to protect the immune systems of children. Antiseptic products can potentially weaken a child’s immune system.
Parents should remind children not to share eating utensils with each other at school. Children should also not put their mounts on toys at day care centers or whenever playing with other children.