Hundreds of children in 10 different states have become very sick with a rare and serious respiratory illness. Reuters reports that federal health officials have confirmed that this is an unusual strain of virus and tends to strike children between the ages of 6 weeks to 16-years-old.
Fox News reports that more than 900 children have been treated at the Children’s Hospital Colorado for severe respiratory illnesses since August 18, with 86 admitted to the hospital.
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services have reported over 300 cases in one pediatric hospital in Kansas City. Of those cases, 15 percent of the patients needed treatment in intensive care.
Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tells MSN that the CDC is working hard to determine how many of these sicknesses are caused by enterovirus D68. So far, a majority of them are. Schuchat expresses her concern for the situation.
“The situation is evolving quickly. We are in a stage where it is difficult to say just how big this is, how long it will go on for and how widespread it will be.”
Although the virus — also known as EV-D68 — has been around since 1962, there is no specific treatment and it is rare. CDC officials told Fox News’ Dr. Marc Siegel they “believe it has been overlooked.”
Dr. Siegel explains that there are 10 or 15 million cases of enterovirus every year.
“But what makes this virus different, is that it usually is a bowel disease, while this one is respiratory. If a child has asthma, they can get very, very sick.”
This strain, according to Schuchat, “can cause severe respiratory problems, and has been linked to neurological problems and could be fatal in severe cases. No deaths have yet been reported with this outbreak.”
Fox News reports that several kids were treated this week at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, including a 13-year-old boy named William whose case quickly became severe. He went from having a “mild cold to a life-threatening illness overnight.” His mom, Jennifer Cornejo, was a nervous wreck.
“He was OK. Then he was unconscious. It was unreal. I thought my heart would come out of my chest. It was so horrible.”
The current states affected by this illness are Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Georgia.
Doctors alert Fox News that in order to protect further infections from spreading, it is imperative to take basic sanitary precautions such as washing your hands frequently with plenty of soap and water, avoid sharing anything with sick people, and disinfect any surfaces that are frequently touched.
[Photo Credit: UCL.ac.uk]