Human enterovirus 68, the rare respiratory virus that has sickened hundreds of children across the US, has now been detected in New York and New Jersey, NBC New York reports.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 140 cases in 16 states: Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
The illness caused by HEV68 is similar to a cold, but with worse symptoms that may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, mouth blisters, body and muscle aches and rash. Some children who have fallen ill with the virus have had to be hospitalized. Those with asthma are at increased risk of suffering more severe symptoms.
Most cases of HEV68 that had been reported previously this year were concentrated in middle America and the South, but the virus has now been detected on the East Coast. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed cases in New York City, Long Island, and New Jersey, according to NBC 4.
The CDC noted that “in the upcoming weeks, more states will have confirmed cases,” but that this will be expected as clusters of unspecified respiratory illnesses are investigated. Such increases “will not necessarily reflect changes in real time, or mean that the situation is getting worse.”
Earlier this month, hospitals in Kansas City and Illinois saw dozens of children turning up for treatment of the rare virus. Some were placed in intensive care.
There is no vaccine, but most of those infected are able to recover on their own. According to the CDC, “We’re currently in middle of the enterovirus season, and [HEV68] infections are likely to decline later in the fall.”
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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