In the space of a month, hundreds of children across America have been admitted to the hospital with breathing problems that the Centers for Disease control suspect to be Enterovirus D68, a rare virus that causes cold and asthma-like symptoms that can quickly turn severe. Children's Hospital Colorado in Denver has seen more than 900 children with respiratory problems between Aug. 8 and Sept. 4, ABC News reports—85 were admitted, some to intensive care.
According to news reports, Missouri, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio and Oklahoma have sent samples to the Centers for Disease Control for identification. Hospitals usually aren't able to perform testing required to identify specific types of enteroviruses on their own.
Mark Pallansch, a virologist and director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Viral Diseases, told CNN that the outbreak could be "just the tip of the iceberg in terms of severe cases." While young children are most vulnerable, the virus can be dangerous for children with asthma—there have been multiple reports of kids being admitted to the hospital after turning blue from struggling to breathe.
"His lips were blue. He was white as a ghost," Jennifer Cornejo told the Denver Post. Her 13-year-old son William, who has asthma, was admitted to Rocky Mountain Hospital and placed on a ventilator this week. "I turned him over, and his eyes were rolling back in his head. He was completely limp. But he was still breathing. I called 911."