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Information on enterovirus D68

September 26, 2014

SPRINGFIELD - On Tuesday the Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced the arrival of the enterovirus D68 to the state.

With enterovirus making its way to Massachusetts, it’s important to know the facts on how to keep your family safe and healthy.

Enteroviruses mainly affect the respiratory system and gastrointestinal tract, causing symptoms such as fever, upper respiratory symptoms, including cough, runny nose, and nasal congestion, as well as diarrhea and stomach pain. Depending on the specific type of enterovirus that a child is infected with, rashes (including hand, foot, and mouth disease), conjunctivitis (redness of the whites of the eyes), and neurologic illnesses such as aseptic meningitis and encephalitis may be seen.

EV-D68 appears to cause symptoms primarily affecting the airways, including wheezing, increased difficulty breathing, and the need for more oxygen.

“Given these symptoms, EV-D68 is more of a concern for children who have underlying respiratory issues, or for premature babies with respiratory airway difficulties, which would make them more predisposed to severe infection with this virus,” said Dr. Michael Klatte of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Baystate Children's Hospital.

There are currently no antiviral medications for treating the EV-D68 infection, which in most cases runs its course, and there are no vaccines to protect you from it.

Since enteroviruses are spread by contact with infected bodily fluids, such as mucous and stool, prevention involves:

•Good hand hygiene – washing them often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially for those who might be changing a baby’s diaper.

•Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

•Covering your nose when sneezing.

•Avoiding kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with those who are sick.

•Disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.

In order to protect our community, and especially our most vulnerable patients, against the spread of contagious illness, Baystate Health has adopted temporary changes to its Visitor Policy to provide the safest environment possible for patients, visitors and team members.

Effective immediately: anyone visiting a child or new mother in the hospital must be 14 years or older. The temporary visitor policy applies to the following Baystate Health hospitals: Baystate Medical Center and Baystate Children’s Hospital in Springfield, Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, Baystate Mary Lane Hospital in Ware, and Baystate Wing Hospital in Palmer.