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Respiratory Virus Could be behind Hundreds of Children Hospitalizations

Update Date: Sep 08, 2014 09:34 AM EDT

According to officials, a respiratory virus might be the cause of hundreds of children hospitalizations. Officials stated that the virus is mainly concentrated in the Midwest, which included states such as Missouri, Illinois and Ohio but could be spreading beyond this region.

So far in Kansas City, MO, Children's Mercy Hospital's spokesman, Jake Jacobson reported treating 450 patients with symptoms of a respiratory virus, which are similar to a cold but much more severe. At least 60 of these children patients needed intensive hospitalization.

"It's worse in terms of scope of critically ill children who require intensive care. I would call it unprecedented. I've practiced for 30 years in pediatrics, and I've never seen anything quite like this," said Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, the hospital's division director for Infectious Diseases, according to CNN. "We've had to mobilize other providers, doctors, nurses. It's big."

The hospital, which treats around 90 percent of the children within that area, noticed an initial spike on August 15 with a peak in cases between the 21st and the 30th. The officials believe that since that time is around the first day of school, the virus could have been transmitted rapidly within the school setting.

The results from lab tests conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that at least 19 patients tested positive for Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68). Currently there is no vaccine and no specific treatment for this virus. The virus is typically mild and is treated based on symptoms, which include fever, body and muscle aches, coughing, sneezing, and rash.

Even thought the cases have been settling down in Kansas City, there is evidence that the virus might have already moved to nearby states. Colorado, Illinois and Ohio have also reported similar cases last weekend. In Colorado, there have been more than 900 children patients seeking care at the Children's Hospital Colorado emergency and urgent care locations for different respiratory illnesses, ranging from Enterovirus to viral infections. In Ohio, the Nationwide Children's Hospital reported seeing a 20 percent increase in patients suffering from respiratory illnesses and in Illinois, more than 70 children needed to be treated for similar conditions. Cases in these states are awaiting the results from lab tests to determine if EV-D68 is the culprit.

Jackson stated, "The full scope is yet to be known, but it would appear it's in the Midwest. In our community, meticulous hand-washing is not happening. It's just the nature of kids."

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