GermWatch: It's Enterovirus Time!

By Per Gesteland

Back-to-school time is here, which means new school supplies, new teachers, and all kinds of germs, including enterovirus. 

kids playing with ball

This wily virus (also known as hand-foot-and-mouth disease, herpangina, or Coxsackle virus) acts up in summer and early fall and is particularly fond of schools and daycares. So, be on the look out for the signs and symptoms and keep those hands washed!

Signs and Symptoms
Enterovirus symptoms are most commonly seen in children. While symptoms vary widely depending on the specific virus, they usually include the following:

  • Fever and flu-like symptoms (aches and chills)
  • Mouth sores
  • Stomach pain
  • Rash
  • Headaches

How It's Spread
Because enteroviruses are primarily spread by the oral-fecal route, young children — whose post-potty hygiene is usually NOT perfect —are the most efficient transmitters. Other sources of transmission include contaminated food and water, coughs and sneezes, and surfaces and objects touched by someone with the virus.

When to Call the Doctor
Call the doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Stiff or sore neck
  • Chest pain
  • Very low energy
  • Signs of dehydration (dry mouth and eyes, little urine, low energy), which can happen if mouth sore make swallowing difficult
  • Fast breathing (more than 40 times a minute) or very difficult breathing (retractions, or using the stomach muscles when breathing)
  • Fever higher than 100.2°F in an infant 3 months or younger Fever lasting longer than 3 days
  • Any severe symptoms or symptoms that last longer than 7 days

How to Avoid It

  • Stop the spread! Wash your hands often and well.
  • Give special attention to your child's handwashing after bathroom trips and before meals
  • Regularly sanitize tables, toys, and other objects and surfaces
  • Cover your sneezes and coughs
  • Use a tissue only once! Throw it away and wash your hands.

Learn more about germ activity in your area at our GermWatch center. You can also get instant access to GermWatch data using HealthHub, our free new app. Stay in the know and stay healthy!