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Unknown Virus Makes Hospitals Off Limits for Children

Update Date: Sep 06, 2014 04:32 PM EDT

Visits to an Illinois hospital are off-limits for children under 12 years following an outbreak of unknown virus in the area.

The Blessing Hospital in Quincy earlier this week announced restrictions for children coming in with flu-like symptoms after 70 children from the area visited with such complaints over the Labour Day weekend, Reuters reported. While it is not known which virus is causing the illness, it was reported that the disease resembles to infections caused by virus HEV68. Similar incidents of illness were reported from other states including Ohio, Missouri and Kansas. The Blessing Hospital meanwhile has advised parents to instruct their children to maintain hygiene and remain at home.

"Vigilant parents need to view this as they would view any other illness their child has and use good judgment in determining whether they need to seek medical care. Most parents don't seek medical care for upper respiratory infections, and that's appropriate because they're self-limiting and don't result in any serious disease. This is no different," Dr. Robert Merrick, an epidemiologist at Blessing Hospital told Quincy Herald Wing.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio received nearly 52 patients a day last week in its emergency wing. It is now treating only children with severe illness. The hospital has sent out samples for testing though there is a strong suspicion that at least some of the cases are HEV68 infections.

According to Chicago Tribune, the Hannibal Regional Healthcare System in Missouri too issued guidelines to prevent spread of the illness, besides asking children to stay indoors.

HEV68 is a rare virus and was first isolated in California in 1962. Though it is not known to be fatal, it is contagious and in some cases causes breathing difficulties, besides a host of flu-like symptoms associated with upper respiratory infections. 

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