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Enterovirus D68 Spreading Like Wildfire Affecting Hundreds of Children

Enterovirus 68

A respiratory illness, Enterovirus D68, also known as EV-D68 is sending hundreds of children to hospitals throughout the Midwest and Southeast.

Twelve states are reporting the enterovirus illness: Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, Georgia, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Utah.

Four of those states, Colorado, Illinois, Missouri and Iowa all have confirmed cases of Enterovirus D68.

Enterovirus 68, is an uncommon strain of a very common virus that typically infects people between summer and through fall.

The virus can cause mild coldlike symptoms including runny noses, coughing and wheezing but Mark Pallansch, director of the viral diseases division at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said this summer's cases are unusually severe and include serious breathing problems.

"It's not highly unusual but we're trying to understand what happened this year in terms of these noticeable and much larger clusters of severe respiratory disease," Pallansch said Monday.

"The number of hospitalizations reported could be just the tip of the iceberg in terms of severe cases," Mark Pallansch told CNN.

Pallansch said the division is looking into the situation. As states continue to send samples to the CDC, the public health agency will get a clearer picture of the number of viral infections being caused.

Like other enteroviruses, EV-D68 appears to spread through close contact with infected people.

To stay healthy, the CDC recommends basic sanitary practices to avoid spreading the virus, including washing hands, avoiding those who are sick, and covering the nose and mouth during sneezes or coughs. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as toys and doorknobs, and stay home when you feeling under the weather to avoid infecting others.

Patients affected by the virus range in age from six weeks to 16 years. The virus is expected to spread across the country.

There are no vaccines for preventing EV-D68 infections.

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