September 2014 – HEALTH – A respiratory virus is sending hundreds of children to hospitals in Missouri and possibly throughout the Midwest and beyond, officials say. The unusually high number of hospitalizations reported now could be “just the tip of the iceberg in terms of severe cases,” said Mark Pallansch, a virologist and director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Viral Diseases. “We’re in the middle of looking into this,” he told CNN on Sunday. “We don’t have all the answers yet.” Ten states have contacted the CDC for assistance in investigating clusters of enterovirus — Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Kentucky. Enteroviruses, which bring on symptoms like a very intense cold, aren’t unusual. They’re actually common. When you have a bad summer cold, often what you have is an enterovirus, he said. The season often hits its peak in September. The unusual situation now is that there have been so many hospitalizations. The virus is sending 30 children a day to a Kansas City, Missouri, hospital, where about 15% of the youngsters were placed in intensive care, officials said. In a sign of a possible regional outbreak, Colorado, Illinois and Ohio are reporting cases with similar symptoms and are awaiting testing results, according to officials and CNN affiliates in those states. In Kansas City, about 450 children were recently treated at Children’s Mercy Hospital, and at least 60 of them received intensive hospitalization, spokesman Jake Jacobson said.
“It’s worse in terms of scope of critically ill children who require intensive care. I would call it unprecedented. I’ve practiced for 30 years in pediatrics, and I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” said Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, the hospital’s division director for infectious diseases. “We’ve had to mobilize other providers, doctors, nurses. It’s big,” she said. The Kansas City hospital treats 90% of that area’s ill children. Staff members noticed an initial spike on August 15, Jackson said. “It could have taken off right after school started. Our students start back around August 17, and I think it blew up at that point,” Jackson said. “Our peak appears to be between the 21st and the 30th of August. We’ve seen some leveling of cases at this point.” This particular type of enterovirus — EV-D68 — is uncommon, but not new. It was first identified in the 1960s and there have been fewer than 100 reported cases since that time. But it’s possible, Pallansch said, that the relatively low number of reports might be because EV-D68 is hard to identify. EV-D68 was seen last year in the United States and this year in various parts of the world. Over the years, clusters have been reported in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona and various countries including the Philippines, Japan and the Netherlands. –11 Alive
No vaccine – no antibiotics: A virus targeting children is spreading rapidly. Oklahoma is one of several states asking the Centers for Disease Control for help diagnosing the respiratory infection. OU Children’s Hospital had 150 children in August diagnosed with rhinovirus or enterovirus. The state is asking the CDC to determine if those cases were the rare enterovirus strain. The rare infection is known as enterovirus 68. While generic enterovirus has been confirmed in Oklahoma, state officials are asking the CDC to test samples to see if it’s the rare strain hospitalizing hundreds of kids across the country.“It is a virus that there is no specific treatment for, antibiotics will not help, there are no antiviral treatments like there are for combating influenza,” said Dr. Kristy Bradley, of the Oklahoma State Department of Health. At least one school in Oklahoma has closed because of the virus. A district in Northern Texas County temporarily canceled classes while the school deals with the virus. State officials worry the virus could close more schools. –Koko