What is it?
Enterovirus 68 is one of the many viruses that cause what we call a ‘common cold’. Fall is the peak season for enterovirus circulation in both Canada and the United States. Most people who are infected with these viruses will not get sick at all or will have mild cold-like symptoms. In rare cases, infection with enterovirus 68 can cause illness resulting in hospitalization in children with existing respiratory disease, like asthma.
Should I be worried about Enterovirus 68?
Enterovirus 68 spreads in the same way as other colds, influenza (flu), and many other infections caused by viruses and bacteria. Most infections will be mild and the person will recover quickly. In other cases, infections can be severe. This is more likely to happen in people who are very young, very old, in poor health, or whose immune system is not working as well as it should. The focus should be on basic steps to prevent getting any kind of virus or bacteria into the body, rather than worrying about a specific virus.
How can I prevent the spread of enterovirus 68?
Prevention for this virus is the same as for any cold or flu:
- Good health including hydration and nutrition, exercise, and sufficient sleep
- Proper hand washing throughout the day especially before and after eating or touching your face. Keep hand sanitizer at your work station and clean your hands before and after using electronics that are shared.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. If you must, wash your hands before and after doing so.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or into your sleeve. Remember to always wash your hands after coughing or sneezing to prevent germs from spreading to others.
- Stay at home if you are ill and encourage your family members, friends and coworkers to stay home for the first day or two, especially if they have a fever
- Stay three feet or more away from others when possible
- Use disinfectant wipes to clean surfaces (at home and at work) that multiple people touch – door handles, railings, etc. Consult your IT department before using disinfectant wipes on any electronic devices or screens.
If you are experiencing severe symptoms different from the ‘common cold’ you should visit your doctor right away. For more information please contact your doctor or your local health unit office.
Information for health care providers: