Mayo Clinic experts comment on child respiratory illnesses

Published 9:45 am Friday, September 19, 2014

ROCHESTER — With the recent news about a large number of children affected by respiratory illnesses in the central U.S., Mayo Clinic Children’s Center pediatrician Phil Fischer and pediatric infectious diseases specialist W. Charles Huskins share information about these illnesses, what parents should look for and how to prevent them from spreading.

Huskins explained that, based on a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sept. 8, it appears that infections in Missouri and Illinois are due to a previously known, but relatively uncommon enterovirus, called enterovirus D68.

Fischer explained that parents and clinicians be aware of the symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, rash and aches. For mildly ill children, parents can use “at home” remedies, such as fluids and over-the-counter cold treatments as needed. But parents should monitor their children closely and seek care, as they would usually, if their child appears to have more than a minor illness, especially if the child has difficulty breathing or a history of asthma or another chronic condition affecting the heart or lungs.

Huskins said that no vaccine or anti-virus medicine exists for enterovirus infection, but supportive treatments, such as fluids, breathing treatments and oxygen, help hospitalized children recover. Dr. Fischer recommended avoiding contact with ill persons. Children who are ill should cover their coughs or sneezes, wash their hands frequently after handling tissues and stay home until they feel better and avoid contact with other children.