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Respiratory Virus Infecting Children Across Midwest

Sep 08, 2014 04:49 AM EDT
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An uncommon virus is causing severe respiratory infections among children across Midwest.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that at least ten states have reported cases of a yet-to-be identified virus that has caused infection in children.

According to Dr. Robert Merrick, an epidemiologist at the hospital, the new virus resembles HEV68, which is a respiratory virus that cause infections in St. Louis and Kansas City a week earlier, Reuters reported.

Blessing Hospital in Quincy - a hospital in Illinois - has even barred children less than 12 years of age from entering the hospital until further notice. As many as 70 children in the area have already caught the respiratory viral infection, according to Reuters.

Around 300 cases of respiratory diseases were reported last month in Kansas City, Missouri. At least 15 percent of these children had severe infections and had to be placed in an intensive care unit, according to USA Today.

Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Kentucky are the states that have sought CDC's help in investigating the respiratory disease cases.

Children's Hospital Colorado told Denver Post that the facility has seen as many as 900 cases of the respiratory illness since Aug. 18, 2014. Health experts believe that the start of a new school year has helped the virus spread.

Human enterovirus outbreaks are common around this time of the year, particularly among children. However, the extent of this outbreak has shocked experts.

"I don't believe we've ever had an outbreak this extensive before," said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert at the Vanderbilt University, according to nbcnews.com. Schaffner added that he hopes that the infection rates slow down in the next few weeks.

The respiratory disease is more severe in some children than others.

"The virus just runs its course. The illness goes away by itself," said WXIA-TV News Medical Correspondent Dr. Sujatha Reddy, according to USA Today. "But for kids who may have asthma or may have bad allergies, or have some other underlying medical problem, they're the ones that, potentially, could get more sick."

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