Updated 12:40 PM EDT, Wed, Sep 22, 2021

Rare Respiratory Virus EV-D68 Infects Hundreds of Children in US; Symptoms & Treatment

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The plight of the epidemic started with a notification from Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. The hospital informed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on August 19 about the increasing number of admission of kids with severe respiratory illness--some needing intensive care.

On August 23, the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital in Illinois reported the same incidence.

With cases rampant in two distinct locations, CDC obtained nasopharyngeal secretions of children from both sites and conducted specimen sequencing. The CDC Picornavirus Laboratory revealed that Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) was identified in 30 out 36 total specimens: 19 out of 22 from Kansas City and 11 out of 14 from Chicago.

CDC said that since then, admissions in both facilities went higher.

At this point, figures are escalating to frightening numbers. Chicago Tribune reported that in Blessing Hospital in Illinois, physicians observed over 70 patients infected with EV-D68 on Labor Day weekend. CNN reported that ten states have alerted CDC and sought aid for viral investigation.

"It is a rare strain of a very common virus," Dr. Holly Phillips said in "CBS This Morning." First discovered in 1962 in California, CDC said that over 100 Enteroviruses cause 10-15 million infections in the US every year. From 2009 to 2013, however, only 79 cases were documented.

The CDC stated that Enteroviruses relate to a variety of clinical symptoms which include mild respiratory illness, febrile rash illness, and neurologic illness. The latter is specifically associated to aseptic meningitis and encephalitis. As runny nose, coughing, and difficulty of breathing can be initially present, confirmation of the virus requires special testing.

Is the disease curable? The answer is a definite yes, and this comes from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The agency said that the infection "will be mild and self-limited, requiring only symptomatic treatment." This would include home remedies and preventive measures, such as frequent hand washing and exclusive use of personal articles.

The Independent UK reported that there are no death cases as of the moment. The source added that one hospital in Kansas City has treated over 300 cases.

Spreading quickly in the Midwest, the total magnitude of the virus cannot be assessed at this point. Assistant Surgeon General and Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Dr. Anne Schuchat announced, "We're in a stage where it's difficult to say just how big this is, how long it will go on for, and how widespread it will be."

In addition, she said that experts are still on their way to understand the nature of the virus.

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