What you need to know about the respiratory illness EV-D68

CALGARY- Parents are on alert, as more children across Canada end up hospitalized after contracting the mysterious respiratory illness EV-D68.

So far 18 children in Alberta have been treated after contracting the bug, which can also affect adults.

Crystal Stevens is an adult from Edmonton who suffers from severe asthma. However, she says catching this strain of Enterovirus is like nothing she’s ever experienced.

“I had shortness of breath, I had a fever—a pretty bad fever actually—but it was the shortness of breath. It was like an elephant was sitting on my chest,” she remembers. “I woke up in the morning and was on my way to work, and then I collapsed at the wheel.”

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She spent two weeks in hospital, including seven days in the intensive care unit.

While EV-D68 is concerning, it’s important to note that about 70 children have been hospitalized by rhinovirus—the virus which causes the common cold.

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“Colds go around quite easily at school, and children are picking up those colds and that’s something that can easily trigger an asthma attack,” explains Kristen Matthews from the Lung Association of Alberta.

Doctors say this is something that happens every year, partly due to what’s become known as the September Spike mostly affecting children with asthma.

“Be on the lookout for things like fevers, shallow rapid breathing, shortness of breath that is sustained and of course if they don’t eat well or they’re lethargic,” suggests pediatrician Dr. Peter Nieman.

Health officials stress that while we are seeing a new rare strain this year, it is still a typical cough and cold season.


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