Another Mysterious Pestilence Breaks Out Across the U.S. — Human Enterovirus D68

Cornego was on a breathing tube for 24 hours to get through the worst of it. (Photo: Courtesy of Will Cornejo)
Cornego was on a breathing tube for 24 hours to get through the worst of it. (Photo: Courtesy of Will Cornejo)

Officials in several states, including Missouri, are reporting cases of respiratory illness, some severe enough to send kids to hospitals.

In Kansas City, Mo., more than 300 cases of respiratory illnesses were reported last month, according to the state Department of Health & Senior Services. About 15% of the illnesses resulted in children being placed in an intensive care unit, according to a health alert issued Aug. 29.

Ten states have contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for help in investigating enterovirus — Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Kentucky, according to WXIA-TV.

Enteroviruses, with symptoms similar to an intense cold, hits its peak in September, according to medical officials.

But it is unusual that there have been so many hospitalizations, CNN reports.

The number of hospitalizations reported could be “just the tip of the iceberg in terms of severe cases,” Mark Pallansch, director of the CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases, told CNN.

Pallansch said the division is looking into the situation.

WXIA-TV News medical correspondent Sujatha Reddy said children with asthma or allergies are the ones who are suffering the severest side effects of the virus.

“If you see your kid’s condition changing — they’re going just from having the sniffles to a fever to now, perhaps, difficulty breathing, or they just look like they don’t feel good — you want to take them to the doctor or to the emergency room to make sure,” Reddy said. “Because these kids that have asthma (or allergies) and get this enterovirus can get very ill.”

This particular type of enterovirus — EV-D68 — is uncommon, but not new. It was first identified in the 1960s.

An analysis by the CDC showed at least 19 of the Kansas City children tested positive for EV-D68, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

Vaccines for EV-D68 aren’t currently available.

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SOURCE: Jessica Durando
USA TODAY