NBC News reports that an outbreak of enterovirus D68, EV-D68, a relative of the polio virus, has sent hundreds of children to hospitals in 10 states. It is still unclear whether or not the sudden surge of outbreaks is dangerous or abnormal. Health officials have been handling the EV-D68 by treating mostly respiratory issues.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is still deciding whether the outbreaks are unusual. As a "distant cousin" of polio, enterovirus D68 has the potential to severely harm children. At this time, there is no clear indication that the virus has mutated or become a threat to the general public. NBC News adds that Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University describes EV-D68 as producing severe "difficulty breathing."
While Schaffner says that "the vast majority of these kids will get better," it is alarming that the CDC notes that enterovirus infections account for up to 15 million yearly infections. CNN concurs that since the symptoms start out as a cold, it is easy for the enterovirus to develop symptoms that bring children into intensive care, especially those children with asthma.
The Midwest area has been the most affected, reports CNN. About 450 children were treated at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. The hospital noted a surge in the EV-D68 infections around mid-August.
Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, the hospital's director for infectious diseases, states, "It could have taken off right after school started. Our students start back around August 17th, and I think it blew up at that point. Our peak appears to be between the 21st and the 30th of August. We've seen some leveling of cases at this point." That does provide some good news.
The Inquisitr reported that earlier this year another enterovirus created a surge in Type 1 Diabetes in young children. In that case, experts in Sydney found that there was a strong correlation between the enterovirus infections and diabetes. Similar to enterovirus D68, the symptoms appeared to be that of the common cold.
CNN adds that other states have contacted the CDC for support on this matter: Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Kentucky. The EV-D68 causes fever, body aches, and respiratory issues similar to the common cold. Over 900 children were hospitalized in Colorado. The enterovirus D68 has been deemed by some health experts as the "worst I've seen." Health officials are closely monitoring development on the outbreak.
[Image courtesy of CNN]