10 states report outbreak of respiratory illness in kids

Officials in 10 states are reporting cases of respiratory illness, some severe enough to send children to hospitals.

In Kansas City, Mo., more than 300 cases of respiratory illnesses were reported last month, according to the state Department of Health and Senior Services. About 15% of the illnesses resulted in children being placed in an intensive care unit, according to a health alert issued Aug. 29.

Ten states have contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for help in investigating enterovirus — Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Kentucky, according to WXIA-TV.

Enteroviruses, with symptoms similar to an intense cold, hits its peak in September, according to medical officials.

But it is unusual that there have been so many hospitalizations, CNN reports.

The number of hospitalizations reported could be “just the tip of the iceberg in terms of severe cases,” Mark Pallansch, director of the CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases, told CNN.

Pallansch said the division is looking into the situation.

Cincinnati medical officials admitted a record number of children to a local hospital over the weekend. Although there’s been no confirmed cases of the enterovirus at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, officials admitted 540 patients Friday, said Dr. Derek Wheeler, associate chief of staff at the hospital.

The previous record was around 515, Wheeler said.

“We’re just seeing the (increased) volumes, we haven’t seen (patients) sicker than usual yet,” he said.

While hospitals from other states have placed restrictions on visitations, Wheeler said there are no plans to do that in Cincinnati.

The virus is similar to what doctors treat during cold and flu season. That means nothing really changes if a child comes down with the rare virus, he said.

“The bottom line is this is a virus you wouldn’t treat with antibiotics, so other than the (high-level of) interest, there’s no reason we would need to know it’s an enterovirus,” Wheeler said.

In Kentucky, Kraig Humbaugh, deputy commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Public Health, said the CDC recently confirmed that five of 10 cases it tested from Kentucky were enterovirus D68.

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