Enterovirus D68 Has Spread from the Northeast to the West Coast

The respiratory illness enterovirus D68 that sent hundreds of children in the Midwest to the hospital before spreading to the northeast early last week is now sickening children out west, with new cases reported late Friday in San Diego and Seattle, according to CBS News.

With the virus now sweeping rapidly across the country, health officials are reminding parents to be on the lookout for symptoms of the virus: coughing, runny nose, wheezing, and congestion that lasts for about a week. Most children recover without a problem, however, kids with asthma and similar breathing issues are more susceptible to serious illness. 

Health departments in 21 states have now reported cases of the virus that required hospital treatment, and many physicians believe that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s official tally is just the tip of the iceberg. For several months, hospital emergency rooms throughout the country have seen a significant increase in the number of children coming in for treatment of respiratory infections. Since the CDC doesn’t require hospitals and labs to report enterovirus D68, public officials say we may never know the true scope of the outbreak.

Hospitals in a number of affected states are banning child visitors in an attempt to keep the virus from spreading further. In upstate New York SUNY Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse is the latest major hospital putting restrictions on young visitors, allowing no patient visits by any person under 16 years old. Several midwestern medical facilities, including hospitals in Indianapolis have set their restrictions to people under 18 years old, and American Fork Hospital in Utah won’t allow anyone under 14 to visit its nursery or pediatric wards.

Ask your doctor whether enterovirus D68 has hit your town, and be extra vigilant if it has. If your child has any difficulty breathing: wheezing, trouble speaking or eating, blueness around the lips, or belly-pulling in with breaths, see a doctor right away.