In the United States, a virus called Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is striking fear in the Midwest, where hundreds of children have been hospitalized. At least six states confirm the presence of the rare virus strain in children as young as 6 weeks old.
Enteroviruses are common, especially in September, but this particular strain is not. There have been fewer than 100 cases recorded in the last five decades of EV-D68, compared to the 100 strains causing between 10 million to 15 million respiratory infections each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
About a dozen states had contacted the CDC by Monday, and public health officials are investigating reports of severe respiratory illness to see if the same strain is responsible.
“We’re in a stage where it’s difficult to say just how big this is, how long it will go on for and how widespread it will be,” said Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, according to The Washington Post.
These states are confirmed to have this strain:
There are also suspected cases in:
Symptoms are similar to a common cold, including runny nose and cough, but some patients develop a severe cough and difficulty breathing. Patients with asthma or a history of breathing problems are susceptible to worsening symptoms.
There is no vaccination for this virus.
For now, officials stress to take necessary precautions, such as hand-washing and cleaning surfaces, to prevent infection.
S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on Twitter @ReporterandGirl, http://Facebook.com/TheReporterandTheGirl and visit her website at http://www.TheReporterandTheGirl.com