Kids reminded to wash hands as mystery virus spreads

Enterovirus D68 has affected more than 1,000 kids in 10 states


Parents want to know how they can protect their kids from the mysterious virus that continues to spread across the United States, making children sick, even hospitalizing some. It's called "Enterovirus D68" and has already affected more than 1,000 children in 10 states. Dr. Giovanni Piedimonte, a pediatric pulmonologist at Cleveland Clinic Children's, says your child's best chance of decreasing the risk of contracting the virus is to practice good hand hygiene.

"Washing hands or disinfecting hands is going to reduce the chance of getting infected," he said.

Piedimonte says this particular type of Enterovirus is uncommon, but it is not new. It was first identified in the 1960's. It spreads like the common cold: coughing, sneezing, or crossing paths with people and things already infected with the virus. That's why hand-washing is a good preventative measure. Experts think the virus may be spreading more rapidly now that school is back in session.

The virus is characterized by flu-like symptoms, which in most cases can be managed at home.

"But if it becomes something with a significant cough and a temperature, particularly if the child is having trouble breathing, definitely, in my opinion they should contact the pediatrician's office," Piedimonte added.

There is no treatment for the virus and no anti-viral medications, but no cases have become fatal. Piedimonte says kids with asthma or other respiratory problems may run the risk of being hospitalized.