09/17/2014 05:47 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 00:57 EDT

Enterovirus D68: How To Protect Children With Asthma

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Parents who have young children with asthma are being advised to ensure their child's condition is controlled to avoid contact with respiratory virus enterovirus D68 (EV-D68).

Cases of the rare virus have already been confirmed in Alberta, resulting in at least 18 ill children, according to the CBC, as well as three confirmed cases in British Columbia. Patients are mostly children and young teens, according to the Ontario Lung Association.

“Most of the patients being hospitalized with acute symptoms associated with the respiratory enterovirus are children with asthma,” Dr. Sharon Dell, a respirologist at Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital told the association. "Make sure they are taking their controller medication and following their asthma management plan."

EV-D68 symptoms, like other viral infections, include coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath, fever and body aches. It can be spread through close contact if an infected person coughs, sneezes or touches objects that others will handle.

The Lung Association notes younger people are more likely to get infected because they are less likely to develop resistance to the infection. And although there isn't a specific type of treatment for EV-D68, concerned parents should contact their family doctor right away if they suspect their child is infected.

The association has also put together tips for parents to keep in mind when they are visiting hospitals or are out with their children in public places.