Public Health Bulletin: Information for Canadians regarding Enterovirus (EV)-D68
(September 23, 2016)
Why you need to know about EV-D68?
The Government of Canada is aware of the Enterovirus (EV)-D68 cases in Canada, and is closely monitoring this issue in collaboration with the provinces and territories.
Enteroviruses, such as EV-D68, are similar to the common cold virus and can spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing, close contact with an infected person, or touching a contaminated surface.
Properly cleaning your hands, coughing into your sleeve and staying home when sick are the most effective measures you can take to protect yourself and others against all common cold viruses and enteroviruses, including EV-D68.
There are more than 100 types of enteroviruses. Most circulate and peak in the summer and fall, so it is not unusual to see increased respiratory illnesses at this time of year, especially with children going back to school.
The risk of severe illness is low for Canadians. Most people who get EV-D68 will have mild symptoms similar to the common cold, such as coughing and sneezing and will recover quickly. However, in some cases, severe illness can occur.
Who is most at risk?
Anyone can get sick with EV-D68. In Canada, the risk of getting sick usually occurs in the summer and fall. Canadians who come in close contact with infected people or surfaces are at a higher risk of getting sick with EV-D68.
Infants, children and teenagers are more likely to be infected and become sick because they do not yet have immunity from previous exposure.
Most people will likely have no symptoms, but some people may show mild symptoms, such as:
• runny nose
• sneezing and coughing
• skin rash
• mouth blisters
• body and muscle aches
Children with asthma who get sick from the virus may have difficulty breathing.
In rare cases, some individuals may develop:
• a heart infection
• a brain and spinal cord infection
• paralysis (when you are unable to move)
Anyone with respiratory illness should contact their health care provider if they are having difficulty breathing, or if their symptoms are getting worse.
EV-D68 and paralysis
A link between paralysis and EV-D68 is not confirmed. Paralysis in children is a rare occurrence. In Canada, approximately 25-60 cases of paralysis are reported every year. All reports of paralysis (caused by illness) in children under 15 years old in Canada are investigated by the treating physician and followed up by the relevant public health authorities.
What you should do to protect your health?
There is no vaccine against non-polio enterovirus infections, including EV-D68.
However, you can decrease the likelihood that you or others will get sick from enterovirus by washing your hands often, especially:
• when you are around someone who is sick;
• before and after eating;
• after you have been in public;
• after using the washroom;
• after changing diapers;
• after coughing and sneezing, and
• after touching surfaces and objects used by others.
You can also protect your health by:
• avoiding hugging and kissing people who are sick;
• coughing and sneezing into your sleeve, not your hand;
• keeping your hands away from your face;
• keeping common surface areas clean, such as countertops, and
• eating healthy foods and exercising regularly to keep your immune system strong.
What is the Government of Canada is doing?
A notice has been sent to health professionals across the country to increase awareness of EV-D68. Health professionals are urged to remain vigilant for possible enterovirus infections causing respiratory illness and to report increases in cases to the local health department.
The Agency’s National Microbiology Laboratory is providing guidance and assisting provincial public health laboratories with the testing of samples for EV-D68.
The Government of Canada will continue to update Canadians if new information becomes available, or if there is an increased risk to public health related to this virus.