Number of States With Enterovirus-D68 on the Rise

September 12, 2014

What has been sometimes called the Midwest enterovirus — suspected of sending hundreds of children to hospitals with breathing problems — is headed to the East and West, if not the South.

As of today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had confirmed 97 cases of enterovirus-D68 (EV-D68) in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, and Missouri, the agency announced. Just 3 days earlier, the count stood at 30 cases in Missouri and Illinois. The previously rare virus has not resulted in any deaths.

Meanwhile, the health departments of states as far-flung as Utah, Washington, New Mexico, Georgia, and Alabama have asked the CDC to test nasopharyngeal specimens from children who have been hospitalized for severe respiratory illness. "We expect the number of states with confirmed cases to go up," CDC spokesperson Thomas Skinner told Medscape Medical News.

The CDC's case count is not an accurate picture of the outbreak "because most kids who come down with the virus are not likely to be tested," Skinner said. "Our surveillance system is designed to tell us where the virus is circulating and alert clinicians that it's out there."

Similar to other enteroviruses, EV-D68 spreads like the common cold. It can trigger mild symptoms such as a runny nose, fever, cough, and muscle aches. However, it sometimes can lead to severe respiratory illness and, on rare occasions, neurological problems resulting in paralysis, although no such cases have been reported so far.

Of the first 30 children hospitalized with EV-D68 in Missouri and Illinois, 70% had a history of asthma or wheezing.

More information on EV-D68 is available on the CDC Web site.


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