Cooler weather and back to school triggers the start of virus season. More time spent indoors in close proximity to those that we work, play, learn, and live with provides a great opportunity for viruses to work their way from one person to the next. While we all try to stay healthy, it is especially important for individuals with chronic conditions and compromised immune systems to take extra measures to avoid illness. For individuals with hemophilia or other bleeding disorders who infuse, it is especially important to pay special attention to hygiene as the infusion site presents an additional portal of entry or exit for viruses and bacteria.
A recent outbreak of Enterovirus D68 across the Midwest has cause for some concern. Below is an excerpt from a recent CNN article that provides information from the CDC for parents about the virus, its symptoms, and how it spreads.
- The virus usually starts like the common cold; symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose and a cough. This is all that happens for most people who catch an enterovirus. But some patients will get a severe cough, have difficulty breathing and/or develop a rash. EV-D68 is sometimes also accompanied by a fever or wheezing.
- So when should you begin worrying? Unfortunately in the beginning it’s difficult — if not impossible — to tell the difference between a regular cold and this type of virus. But there are symptoms you should be on the lookout for if your child becomes sick.
- Go to the doctor if he or she develops a fever or a rash, or if your child has difficulty breathing. Children with asthma or a history of breathing problems are particularly susceptible for severe symptoms.
Where is the virus spreading?
- As of Monday (September 8, 2014), 10 states had reached out to the CDC for help in identifying clusters of enterovirus illnesses: Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Kentucky.
- But EV-D68 is often hard to distinguish from its relatives so the virus could be in other states as well.
Why are kids being hospitalized?
- Anyone can get infected with enteroviruses, according to the CDC, but infants, children and teens are more likely to become sick because they have not yet built up immunity from previous exposures to the viruses.
How do I protect my children?
- The respiratory illness spreads through close contact, just like the common cold. You can also be infected by touching objects or surfaces that have the virus on them, then touching your face.
- There’s not a great deal you can do, health officials say, beyond taking common-sense steps to reduce the risk.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds — particularly after going to the bathroom and changing diapers.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces that are regularly touched by different people, such as toys and doorknobs.
- Avoid shaking hands, kissing, hugging and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick. And stay home if you feel unwell.
8 Tips to Stay Healthy and Germ Free
To help prevent the spread of germs to and from those around you, here are some simple tips from our FitFactor Team that can help you stay healthy:
1. Wash your hands: The single most important thing you can do to help stop the spread of germs is good hand washing. Hand hygiene is critical to interrupting the spread of infectious diseases, such as the common cold, influenza, and gastrointestinal illnesses. If soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers that are at least 60% alcohol can be effective.
2. Do not touch: Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. These are the most common places for viruses to enter the body.
3. Lay low: If you are feeling ill, stay home and limit your contact with others.
4. Flu shots: Sudden fever, body aches, sore throat and a dry cough are all symptoms of the flu. Yearly vaccinations offer protection against the flu, and are now available in a nasal spray. See your healthcare provider or hemophilia treatment center to discuss if a flu vaccine is recommended, and which method is right for you.
5. Eat well: Maintain a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins and antioxidants that provide the body and the immune system with the power it needs to fight off germs and keep you well.
6. Exercise: 20 to 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily (such as brisk walking) increases blood flow which helps to boost the immune system and ward off illness.
7. Go to bed: Adults need at least 7 hours of sleep each night and children need 8 or more. The body re-energizes and repairs itself while sleeping. Getting enough rest is a vital part of staying well.
8. Be happy: The hormones the body releases when stressed can lower the body’s resistance to fight off germs. Identify the sources of stress in your life and find ways to reduce them.