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Why is Enterovirus Appearing Now?

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Rochester: Why is Enterovirus Appearing Now?
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There's been a lot of talk about the enterovirus respiratory illness that's spread across the country.

While there are more than 100 types of enteroviruses that commonly cause respiratory illness, D68 is a less common type.

"The virus has been identified in 1962 in California. It has emerged rarely in the United States, in Europe and around the world since then," said Dr. Jana Shaw, Pediatrics Infectious Disease Specialist.

So why is it appearing now?

"My personal theory is that return to school, school openings and children playing together and sharing their experiences and germs facilitate the transmissions. But I don't think we understand why this virus has reemerged," said Dr. Shaw.

But that doesn't necessarily mean it's more serious.
Pediatricians and hospitals have seen an uptick in worried parents bringing in children suspected of having the illness.

"A number of them have seen children come in with a cold, congestion, and sniffles and parents are very worried that it's this particular virus. But the truth is, even if it is, most of the children do really well on their own without any intervention," said Dr. Shaw.

Symptoms are similar to that of a common cold including fever, runny nose, coughing, sneezing and body aches. Pediatric infectious disease specialists said most children without underlying medical conditions can often keep up with their daily activities.

"If your child is able to continue to play, drink and eat and does not otherwise appear to be very ill, you probably don't need to bring your child to a pediatrician," said Shaw.

Shaw said the virus has primarily affected children who have a history of asthma. So parents need to keep up on their children's nebulizer treatments.

Remember, the disease is spread through close contact - so children should cover their coughs and sneezes with their arm, wash their hands frequently and avoid sharing utensils.

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