Virus sickens more than 1,000 children

- (Editor's note:  This is a story that was published on Sept. 08, 2014 that has been republished due to recent interest in the topic)

NEW YORK (FOX5NY) -Health officials suspect that a respiratory virus is the reason that hundreds of children across the country have been sickened in recent weeks and there are fears that the number of cases will explode.

The virus is called enterovirus D68. While there are more than 100 types of enterovirus, and they are considered common, this variety is considered less common.

One pediatric hospital in Kansas City, Mo. has 300 cases of respiratory illnesses recently. 15% of the cases required that the children be placed in intensive care. Testing of specimens from several cases that a specialized lab at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that most were positive for enterovirus D68.

There are an estimated 10 to 15 million enterovirus infections in the U.S. every year, according to the Missouri Department of Health. Most people have no symptoms or only mild cold-like symptoms. But some infections can be serious. So far, no deaths have been reported due to the recent D68 outbreak.

The CDC reports that there are suspected outbreaks in ten states, including Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oklahoma.

Most enterovirus infections in the U.S. occur during the summer and fall. It is spread through close contact.  Health officials expect that the number of cases could dramatically increase now that children are headed back into the classroom.

To help reduce the risk of infection people are encouraged to wash hands often with soap and water, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, avoid kissing hugging and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

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