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Rare Enterovirus 68 Sickening Children in the Midwest

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Sick Child with NurseA rare form of the Enterovirus, Enterovirus 68 or EV68, has sickened 1,000 children in eleven states, sending many young patients to the hospital for respiratory distress.

Enterovirus 68 is one of many non-polio enteroviruses. Symptoms of the virus resemble the common cold caused by the rhinovirus. Unlike the common cold, however, EV68 severe respiratory symptoms like wheezing, especially among individuals with underlying respiratory problems like asthma. Young children are also especially at risk.

Comments Dr. Richard Besser, chief health and medical editor for ABC News, “It’s the wheezing you have to watch out for.”

Although EV68 is rare in the United States, doctors at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver alone have identified 900 children admitted to the emergency room with symptoms of the virus. The hospital admitted 86 pediatrics patients with severe symptoms, including a handful to intensive care.

Stated Dr. Anne Schuchat, head of infectious diseases for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at a press briefing on Enterovirus 68 on Monday, “Hospitalizations are higher than would be expected at this time of year. The situation is evolving quickly.”

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Colorado has identified the highest number of EV68 cases. Other suspected cases have also been reported in Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, and Georgia. The CDC expects the list and number of cases to grow.

Although the disease can cause serious respiratory symptoms, Dr. Schuchat offers some reassuring advice for parents. Parents do not need to worry about runny noses and sniffles, both symptoms of EV68 as well as the common cold.

However, parents should act quickly if a child begins experiencing difficulty breathing. Explains Dr. Schuchat, “This can be a scary thing to hear about for parents. If your child is having difficulty breathing, you want to get medical attention.”

No specific treatment or vaccine currently exists for the Enterovirus 68. Treatment involves supportive care.

References

CDC Warns Of Fast-Spreading Enterovirus Afflicting Children: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/09/08/346846167/cdc-warns-of-fast-spreading-enterovirus-afflicting-children
Enterovirus D68: http://www.cdc.gov/non-polio-enterovirus/about/EV-D68.html
What You Need to Know About the Enterovirus Outbreak: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/enterovirus-outbreak/story?id=25345098

Image Credits

Sick Child with Nurse: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEMA_-_14268_-_Photograph_by_Marty_Bahamonde_taken_on_01-03-2004.jpg

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Written by Heather Johnson

Heather is a writer, librarian, linguist, wife, and mother who loves her husband, children, dogs, and cat. She has a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in creative writing and master's degrees in library and information science and English studies with a concentration in linguistics.

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