An increase in reports of respiratory illness in children has been ongoing in the United States (US) since the middle of August 2014. The cause of the illness has been identified as an enterovirus (strain EV-D68).
Cases of enterovirus D68 infection have been reported from Calgary in the province of Alberta. Between 1-11 September 2014, 9 cases of EV-D68 were identified in children admitted to one paediatric hospital in the city with a respiratory condition. This is a significant increase compared with 2013.
At present there is no vaccine available and no specific treatment for EV-D68; clinical care is supportive. Symptoms may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches. Those with pre-existing conditions, such as asthma or other respiratory conditions, may be particularly susceptible to severe infections from EV-D68.
Advice for Travallers
As EV-D68 causes respiratory illness, the virus can be transmitted via respiratory secretions e.g. saliva, nasal mucus or sputum from an infected individual. Infection is spread person to person when an infected individual coughs, sneezes, or touches and contaminates surfaces.
Travellers should reduce the risk of respiratory illness by practicing good hand hygiene:
- Wash hands often with soap and water, especially after changing nappies.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are unwell.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and door handles, particularly if someone is unwell.