A disease is spreading among children and it all starts with the common cold.
It’s called Enterovirus 68, or HEV 68. The respiratory virus begins with a fever, runny nose, sneezing, and coughing, but hundreds of kids in part of the Midwest are ending up in the hospital.
Last week, WQAD’s Sister Station, KTVI in St. Louis, reported that the St. Louis Children’s Hospital has seen an increase in patients and another hospital says its cases are up 50%.
About four hours west in Kansas City, Missouri, WQAD’s Sister Station, WDAF, reported on the same day that Children’s Mercy Hospital has seen more than 300 cases in recent days in kids of all ages.
This week, two hospitals in Quincy, Illinois announced its putting age restrictions on visitors because of the respiratory virus. CNN reports that the virus brought 70 kids to the hospital over the 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 Lisa Caffery, RN and Infection Prevention Coordinator for Genesis Health System.
Caffery says they have not seen any cases of the virus in our area, but as we approach cold and flu season, it’s a virus that is seen occasionally, especially as kids go back to school and are in constant interaction.
“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.”
Health officials also say most of those infected are kids who have underlying conditions like asthma.
Caffery says if your child has trouble breathing or a fever they can’t break, bring them to the hospital or a doctor.
To lower your chances of getting sick, Caffery says go back to basics: stay home if you and your child come down with something, wash your hands frequently, cover your coughs and sneezes, and get a flu shot.