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Prevention is the best medicine for enterovirus D-68

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- With recent cases of the respiratory illness enterovirus D-68 being reported in multiple states within the U.S., doctors want to ensure all the members of the military community are informed and safe when confronting this illness.

If the proper precautions and prevention methods are followed, the illness should have little effect on Defense Department Education Activity schools and families.

Enterovirus D-68 is spread like most common colds - through making contact with surfaces or objects that an infected person has coughed on, sneezed on or touched. Also like a cold, we have yet to create any effective vaccines or antiviral medications to fight or prevent it, so early detection and care is vital to treatment.

Since enterovirus D-68 primarily affects children 16 weeks to 16 years of age, parents and teachers at DOD schools should pay close attention to all of their kids. The most common symptoms to watch for are traces of a cold or respiratory illness like a fever, runny nose or cough. Be aware that among children with asthma, though uncommon, the presence of wheezing or difficulty breathing should be brought to the attention of a local military treatment facility or emergency room.

If teachers and parents are vigilant in reporting any cases to their school administrators and military treatment facilities, and implement the following DOD prevention guidelines in their schools and homes, it will help ensure that military children stay as safe as possible:

• Keep children and staff members home if they feel unwell
• Cover mouth, with tissue or sleeve, when sneezing or coughing and promptly dispose of the used tissues
• Wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds, particularly after coughing, sneezing, or blowing one's nose; and after going to the bathroom, changing diapers, and before eating
• Clean and disinfect surfaces that are regularly touched by different people, including changing tables and toys
• Avoid shaking hands, kissing, hugging and sharing cups or eating utensils, especially with children or staff who are sick

For more information about enterovirus D-68, visit the Centers for Disease Control website by clicking here.