Outbreak in Children of Severe Respiratory Illness that Starts Like Common Cold — Possibly Enterovirus 68

An unidentified severe cold-like respiratory illness with outbreaks through parts of the U.S. has affected Denver, Colorado. Hundreds of children have been reported with the suspected, but not confirmed, rare respiratory virus known as human enterovirus 68. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus is related to the rhinovirus, which causes the common cold.

According to Mark Pallansch, director of the Division of Viral Diseases at the CDC, there are additional outbreaks of suspected enterovirus 68 in the United States in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Georgia, and Colorado.

Between August 18 and September 4, Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver reported that doctors saw more than 900 pediatric patients with symptoms of the respiratory virus in the emergency room — 86 were admitted into the hospital and some were transferred to the intensive care unit.

Missouri’s Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City recorded 300 children with the unconfirmed virus.

“Due to the recent outbreaks of enterovirus infections in Missouri and Illinois, Hannibal Regional Hospital health officials ask that children 16 and under and persons with the following symptoms refrain from visiting patients who are hospitalized at Hannibal Regional Hospital until further notice.”

— Hannibal Regional Hospital, Missouri

Blessing Hospital in Quincy, Illinois also prohibited children under 12-years-old from entering the hospital around Labor Day Weekend.

The virus usually initially appears similar to a severe cold, but can be particularly dangerous for children with asthma because of complications with the respiratory system.

Enterovirus 68 is apparently a new enterovirus that was isolated in California over a course of four years from more than 20 patients with Central Nervous System disease — including one case of fatal encephalitis. The children in California experienced polio-like symptoms with five children experiencing paralysis of limbs. Polio is also an enterovirus, which are single-stranded RNA viruses. Enteroviruses are responsible for a wide range of illnesses including the common cold; polio; the polio-like syndrome associated with enterovirus 68; pericarditis and/or myocarditis; acute hemorrhagic conjunctivitis; hand, foot and mouth disease; encephalitis; and herpangina.

In 2013, Finnish researchers at Tampere University reported they discovered an enterovirus that attacks the pancreas and destroys insulin-producing cells — eventually leading to Type-1 Diabetes Mellitus. The researchers a working on a possible vaccine to prevent Type I diabetes.


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