Enteroviruses are very common viruses. They can cause many types of illnesses that can range from mild to severe. These include mild cold-like illnesses (runny nose, cough and sneezing), fever and rash illnesses, severe respiratory illnesses (difficulty breathing), and severe neurological illnesses (encephalitis or meningitis).
Most people who get infected by enteroviruses will not get sick. Infants, children and teenagers are more likely to get infections because they have not developed as much immunity to these viruses as adults. Children with a history of asthma or wheezing are at higher risk for severe illness. Parents of children with asthma should make sure their children regularly take their prescribed asthma medication (puffers or inhalers) and make sure their illness is controlled. If symptoms worsen, especially difficulty breathing, seek medical care immediately.
Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is a rare enterovirus that causes mild to severe respiratory illness. EV-D68 is related to the common cold virus and can spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing, close contact with an infected person, or by touching contaminated surfaces.
Enteroviruses such as EV-D68 are most common in the summer and fall months. Recently in Canada and the United States, there have been several cases of severe respiratory illness in hospitalized children due to EV-D68 infection.
To protect yourself and your family against enteroviruses such as EV-D68, make sure to:
- Wash your hands. For more information on hand washing, see HealthLinkBC File #85 Hand Washing for Parents and Children. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer.
- Cough and sneeze into your arm, not your hand.
- Keep your hands away from your face.
- Keep common surface areas clean and disinfected.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Seek medical care right away if you are experiencing difficulty breathing, especially if you have a history of asthma or other lung conditions.
- Make sure your immunizations are up to date. There is no vaccine for EV-D68, but ensuring your other immunizations are up to date will help keep you healthy and your immune system strong. For more information on immunizations, see our B.C. Immunization Schedules web page.
- Eat healthy foods and be physically active to help keep your immune system strong. For more information on healthy eating, visit our Healthy Eating web page.
For Health Care Workers
For a situation update on EV-D68 for B.C. clinicians and public health practitioners, visit the BC Centre for Disease Control Emerging Respiratory Virus Updates web page.
Your Health Authority
For Enterovirus D68 related information from your health authority, where available, click on the links below.
- First Nations Health Authority: Information on Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68)
- Island Health: Enterovirus
- Vancouver Coastal Health: Enterovirus: what you should know
BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC)
The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) is an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority. They provide provincial and national leadership in public health through surveillance, detection, prevention and consultation. They also provide direct diagnostic and treatment services to people with diseases that may affect the health of the public. To learn more about Enterovirus D68, visit the web page listed below.
Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is responsible for promoting health, preventing and controlling chronic and infectious diseases, and preparing for and responding to public health emergencies. For information about Enterovirus D68, including causes, symptoms, and treatment, visit the web pages listed below.
Last Reviewed: September 15, 2016
The information provided in the Enterovirus D68 Health Feature has been adapted from the Statement from the Public Health Agency of Canada on Enterovirus EV-D68 accessed September 23, 2014 and the BC Centre for Disease Control Enterovirus D68 FAQ and Enterovirus D68 Overview web pages accessed September 15, 2016.