Hundreds of children in the Midwest have been hospitalized in the past month due to respiratory illnesses, Reuters reports.
A specific type of enterovirus that typically affects school-age children, called enterovirus 68 or EV-D68, seems to be the cause, and has led to more than 300 hospitalizations for respiratory-related illnesses in Kansas City, Missouri, alone since last month.
A dozen states are reportedly affected—including Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Kentucky—have since and have contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for help in investigating this illness, USA Today reports.
Enteroviruses, which usually peak in September, often produce symptoms similar to the common cold (like coughing), but can also develop into more serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or wheezing. In addition, sometimes a rash can show up, CNN reports.
Transmission of this enterovirus is not fully understood, though it seems to be passed via close contact with another infected person, which is why schoolchildren are at a higher risk. The CDC recommends keeping in mind the following practices to prevent spreading it and other respiratory illnesses:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick
Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, which has been treating many of these patients, recommends the following advice if your child is exhibiting respiratory illness symptoms: "If your child has fever not controlled by acetaminophen or ibuprofen or is not drinking, call your healthcare provider for advice. Seek care promptly if your child develops difficulty or labored breathing. If your child has asthma, follow your Asthma Action Plan. And if symptoms persist, don't hesitate to contact your healthcare provider."
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Photo of child in hospital courtesy of Shutterstock.