A respiratory illness sweeping across the country has already sickened more than a thousand children in 10 states, sending dozens to the hospital and in some cases, intensive care units.
“So if your state doesn’t have it now, watch for it. It’s coming,” said ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser.
Back-to-school season is notorious for making kids sick – literally, that is. Kids get around each other and pick up germs, and then they come home and spread those germs to their siblings. “But this (respiratory virus), this particular Enterovirus 68, is very rare and they have no idea why it showed up this year,” Besser said.
Medical staff at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver first realized something was going on when between August 18 and September 4 they saw more than 900 children with respiratory symptoms in the emergency room. About 10 percent were hospitalized and some ended up in intensive care for several days, sedated and with a breathing tube.
Besser warns that the virus can start like the common cold with runny nose, sneezing, and coughs. When it advances to wheezing, it becomes a problem, especially for children with asthma. Even kids without asthma have experienced wheezing with this outbreak.
The 10 states that have reported suspected outbreaks of human enterovirus 68 and requested CDC support are Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Georgia.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people follow basic sanitary practices to avoid spreading the virus, such as washing hands, avoiding sick individuals, and covering the nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing. Parents and caregivers of children with asthma should be sure that their children’s inhalers are easily accessible and that there is a treatment plan in place in the event an asthma attack occurs, especially when the child is sick.
Source: ABC News