The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed some cases of the rare human enterovirus 68 (HEV68) in Missouri and Illinois, officials announced on Monday.
This announcement comes on the heels of media reports that a mysterious respiratory illness thought to be HEV68 has sickened hundreds of children across the U.S.
CNN reports that one Kansas City hospital has seen up to 30 children a day come in for treatment for the virus, which is similar to a cold, but with worse symptoms. About 15% of those children are placed in intensive care. The hospital has seen more than 300 cases so far.
On Friday, a hospital in Illinois starting banning children under the age of 12 from visiting in an effort to contain the outbreak, according to Reuters. More than 70 children in Quincy, Illinois, got sick with the virus over Labour Day weekend.
The CDC tested 36 specimens and found 30 cases of enterovirus 68 in Chicago and Kansas City. Those 30 cases are the only ones that have been confirmed by the CDC.
It’s unclear if the CDC expects the virus to spread further. Officials are currently investigating potential cases in other states.
The virus has hit 12 states so far, according to the Associated Press. About 500 cases have been reported at one hospital in Kansas City alone.
HEV68 is a rare illness that affects children more than adults, and clusters of it have been identified in parts of the U.S. before, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus is similar to the rhinovirus, which causes the common cold.
HEV68 symptoms include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, mouth blisters, body and muscle aches and rash. The virus usually isn’t fatal, although this year’s cases have been especially severe and required intensive care for some children.
The virus spreads like the common cold, so to avoid being infected, wash hands frequently and avoid sharing cups and utensils with those who are sick.
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