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Reading and hearing about the deadly Ebola virus in Africa in recent weeks is enough to scare anyone. Then there are always flu strains that could kill people, especially society’s most vulnerable: Children and the elderly.

Add another scary scenario to the mix: A serious respiratory illness called Enterovirus D68, or EV-D68. According to news reports, the illness has affected hundreds pf youngsters in at least 10 states, but Pennsylvania isn’t one of them. That isn’t to say, however, that EV-D68 won’t make its way here.

The website cnn.com reports that the virus has landed many in the hospital. The website notes that enteroviruses are common, but this one is rare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to cnn.com, noted less than 100 cases of the virus have occurred since the 1960s when the virus was identified.

So what are parents to do? What should they watch for and do should their child or children become infected? Better yet, how can they prevent this virus?

First off, EV-D68 often resembles the common cold — runny nose, cough and sneezing. It escalates with severe cough, difficulty breathing and/or a rash and may even affect a person with high fever or wheezing. Children affected by asthma or other respiratory illnesses are especially prone to more serious symptoms, according to the report.

If a child becomes infected, doctors recommend plenty of rest, fluids, over-the-counter medications and, if severe, breathing treatments, the latter of which occurs for those hospitalized with the virus.

Determined to prevent the virus? Well, who wouldn’t be? The ounce of prevention, according to the website, requires practicing proper hygiene: Wash those hands thoroughly and often, especially after using the restroom; clean and disinfect surfaces constantly touched, like doorknobs, countertops and toys; refrain from hugs, kisses and handshakes if exhibiting cold symptoms and, above all, if you’re sick, STAY HOME. Don’t spread the germs!

I don’t think there’s a parent out there who hopes to prevent their children from getting sick. I know I’m one to fight germs to keep illnesses at bay! Sickness that keeps my kiddos at home means juggling work time, child care arrangements and ensuring for my daughter that homework gets done to make up missed school instruction.  So stay vigilant, families. Eat right, exercise, get plenty of rest (OK, rest can be a problem with so much to do and so little time, but try! Lol) and practice healthy habits in the hopes of a sickness-free season.