The enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) respiratory infection does not increase the risk of death or need for critical care in children, according to a study published October 13 online ahead of print in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

In 2014, EV-D68 affected a significant number of children in the United States and Canada. An increase in the number of hospitalizations and admissions to intensive care units led some to believe that the EV-D68 strain was more virulent than other strains of the enterovirus. Researchers tested this hypothesis in a study of children admitted to the hospital with rhinovirus or enterovirus infections.

The investigators compared the severity of illness between children with EV-D68 and those with other rhinovirus and enterovirus infections who were admitted to the McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. The study included 297 children, 93 of whom tested positive for EV-D68. Children with EV-D68 were more likely to have respiratory distress, be admitted to the hospital, and receive magnesium sulfate or IV salbutamol, compared with those with other rhinovirus or enterovirus infections. However, rates of admission to the pediatric critical care unit and death among children with EV-D68 were similar to those of children without EV-D68.

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Children with EV-D68 were more likely to have a family history of allergies or asthma. This suggests that patients with pre-existing atopic conditions may be more susceptible to EV-D68 than rhinoviruses and other enteroviruses.