Fever, coughing, mouth blisters: Hundreds of Midwest kids hospitalized with mystery virus
Doctors in Illinois are attempting to establish a connection between a respiratory ailment that has sickened hundred of school-age children in the state and a virus called Enterovirus 68 that has sent more than 300 children to the hospital in Missouri.
According to Reuters, hospitals in Illinois have placed age restrictions on visitors in an attempt to keep the highly infectious virus from passing from child to child.
In late August, hospitals in St. Louis and Kansas City reported a sharp increase in children with the kind of wheezing and coughing normally associated with asthma, high fevers, mouth blisters, skin rashes and body aches.
Symptoms come on, said WQAD, like a common cold, but Enterovirus 68 — also known as HEV 68 — but progresses into more severe symptoms. One hospital in Quincy, Illinois, saw more than 70 children come in with symptoms of the virus over Labor Day weekend.
“When you see a hospital have 70 children in over a weekend, that is kind of unusual, so we always keep an eye on things going around in the area,” said nurse and infectious disease specialist Lisa Caffery to WQAD.
“It’s easily spread from person to person through contact with respiratory secretions and so that’s why children are probably more at risk than adults, but adults can get it as well,” Caffery explained.
More than 300 children have been hospitalized with the virus in Missouri and the number of cases is rising and expected to increase in Illinois, where the beginning of the school year means that children will be in close contact with each other, making it easier for the virus to spread.
Health authorities say to exercise the usual precautions of cold and flu season such as covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze and emphasizing frequent hand washing. Most children’s ailments do not require hospitalization, but if any child appears to be having trouble breathing or is running a fever that won’t break, officials say to seek medical attention.
Watch video about this story, embedded below via WQUD:
[image of patient with Enterovirus 68 via screencap]