Report: Enterovirus D68 Spreading to the Northeast

The severe respiratory illness responsible for hospitalizing hundreds of children is spreading, according to an ABC News report. Enterovirus D68 has already affected kids in 21 states from New Mexico to Montana and Delaware, and it’s making its way to the northeast. Connecticut and New York are the most recent states to report cases.

In Connecticut, the state’s Department of Public Health received information from two hospitals in different parts of the state reporting clusters of the severe respiratory illness among children. And the New York State Department of Health has confirmed more than a dozen cases of enterovirus D68 in children living in the state capital and central regions. The virus is likely to continue to spread, often through schools and other social gatherings, and is now expected to impact the entire country.

There have been no reported cases of the virus in adults. It is believed that adults may have already built up an immunity towards the virus from previous infections in their lifetimes, or they may only get a milder cold-like version of the disease that’s hitting kids so hard.

Children who contract enterovirus D68 have cold-like symptoms at first, including a runny nose, coughing, and wheezing. These symptoms can escalate quickly and include trouble breathing. Parents should be on the lookout if their child is wheezing, has difficulty breathing or eating, or turns blue around the lips. This virus is dangerous to all children, especially those who have asthma or similar breathing disorders.

Doctors have found an effective way to treat the virus using some of the same medicines they give to kids with asthma. In most cases, the drug opens up the airways and allows the child to breathe more easily. Hundreds of children have required hospitalization because of the virus, with many others needing some treatment at medical emergency facilities or their pediatrician’s office.