The Not-So-Common Cold

A rare strain of the common cold has been carving a swath of sick days through the Midwest.

A photo showing the normal human body temperature. Anything else is probably unhealthy.

Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock

A photo showing the normal human body temperature. Anything else is probably unhealthy.

Connor Lowe, Columnist

A rare respiratory virus, known as Human Enterovirus D68, has been sickening children across the nation. You probably have no idea what an “enterovirus” is, but it sounds scary. Boo! Enterovirus!

In reality, Human Enterovirus D68 is a mild to serious virus related to the common cold. It can cause fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and muscle aches, but severe symptoms may include wheezing and difficulty breathing. If it’s mild, it’s nothing worse than your common cold. It may even get you a nice day off when you’re too sick to go to school but don’t feel too horrible, so you just sit in bed and eat chicken soup or whatever. If it’s serious, though, you could be hospitalized, especially if you have asthma. One victim reported feeling like he couldn’t breathe at all and had to be placed on a respirator after entering the hospital.

So what can you do to prevent this? For one, you can wash your hands. Also, you can cover your mouth when you cough, and avoid close contact with infected people. The symptoms usually appear within hours of contraction, so you won’t have a lot of forewarning. Since Enterovirus 68 is a virus, it is immune to antibiotics, so your immune system has to fight it off on its own. Doctors can help those with serious symptoms – by putting those afflicted on respirators and such – but it would be a lot easier to just avoid getting sick in the first place. Again, just be careful. Drink plenty of water; eat chicken soup; take hot showers and so on.