How enterovirus D68 spreads

Enterovirus D68 spreads when an infected person:

  • coughs
  • sneezes
  • touches a surface that is then touched by others.

It may also spread through contact with an infected person’s poo (faeces).

Enterovirus D68 is not common in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Symptoms of enterovirus D68

Enterovirus D68 can cause mild to severe flu -like (respiratory) illness. Infants, tamariki (children) and rangatahi (young people) are most likely to become sick from infection. This is because they have not had the virus before, so do not have immunity to it.

Adults can become infected but they are more likely to have no symptoms or mild symptoms.

Mild symptoms

Mild symptoms may include:

  • fever
  • runny nose
  • sneezing
  • cough
  • body and muscle aches.

Severe symptoms

Severe symptoms may include wheezing and difficulty breathing.

Complications of enterovirus D68

Tamariki with asthma may have serious breathing difficulties when they have the virus.

A small number of people infected have suffered neurological (brain and nerve) illnesses including:

  • limb weakness
  • cranial nerve dysfunction - nerve damage in the brain that affects other parts of your body.

Sometimes they have have both.

Diagnosing enterovirus D68

If you only have mild symptoms of enterovirus, your healthcare provider will not usually do tests.

If you have symptoms of serious infection they may take samples from your nose and throat to test. They may also take samples from your:

  • blood
  • wee (urine)
  • poo (faeces)
  • spinal fluid.

Treating enterovirus D68

There are no specific treatments or antiviral medicines if you have an illness caused by enterovirus D68. If symptoms become severe enough, you may need to go to hospital for treatment.

Preventing enterovirus D68

There are no vaccines to prevent enterovirus D68 infection.

Here are some tips to prevent getting and spreading enterovirus D68.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, and use hand sanitiser when you cannot wash.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow, not your hands.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact such as hugging, kissing, or sharing cups or utensils with people who are sick.
  • Disinfect surfaces you touch often, especially if someone is sick.