Cold and flu seasons are different every year, because viruses constantly evolve. During the fall and early winter, variations of rhinoviruses, noroviruses and enteroviruses – the most common causes of colds and flus – are much more likely to spread.
This year, one potentially dangerous variation called Enterovirus D-68 has affected thousands of children throughout the U.S. Unfortunately, it’s extremely contagious, which makes schools and daycares a hotbed for these germs to spread.
What Is Enterovirus? What Symptoms Are Present?
Enteroviruses are very common, and there are roughly 70 different variations. Some enteroviruses affect the respiratory tract, which cause cold symptoms, while others affect the gastrointestinal tract, causing diarrhea, vomiting and nausea.
Enterovirus D68 is related to the rhinoviruses, and primarily affects the respiratory tract. Symptoms include mild to severe respiratory illness. (Learn more about enterovirus from the CDC).
Many children, for instance, begin by showing regular cold symptoms, like fever, runny nose, sneezing, and coughing. But for some kids, symptoms have progressed into more severe respiratory problems, including difficulty breathing and wheezing. Already hospitals in Kansas City and Denver have been inundated this fall with children suffering from enterovirus.
The CDC does note that not all children with cold symptoms are infected; the CDC recommends contacting a physician if severe respiratory symptoms are present.
Preventing the Spread of Enterovirus
Enteroviruses are spread like colds and the flu, when bacteria containing the virus enter the body. Poor hygiene is one of the most common causes for their spread. Here are some examples:
- Through the air, i.e. coughing and sneezing
- When people touch contaminated surfaces (especially water fountains, lunch trays and toys at school)
- Through contact with infected people
- When changing diapers
The spread of colds, influenza and enterovirus are often caused by poor hygiene. (Read some recent DripDrop cold and flu prevention tips here). According to the CDC, strategies to prevent the spread of enterovirus include:
- Washing hands regularly with soap
- Disinfecting and cleaning frequently touched surfaces and toys
- Avoiding sharing objects and close contact with other sick kids
- Keeping your child home when they’re sick
Hydration is Important During Cold and Flu Season
We’ve written a little bit about why hydration is important for kids in school on the blog before. For one, hydration may help prevent illnesses. But for those already sick, hydration can help alleviate cold and flu symptoms, as well.
Here are just a few ways hydration helps during cold and flu season:
- Drinking more fluids may boost immune system function, helping kids fend off illnesses.
- Increasing fluids can help prevent dehydration caused by vomiting, diarrhea or excessive sweating due to high fever.
- Hydration may help keep the nose and throat moist and help loosen mucus
Image via Flickr.