Outbreak of a Respiratory Illness Escalates Among Children and Mystifies Scientists
[excerpted] An outbreak of respiratory illness first observed in the Midwest has spread to 38 states, sending children to hospitals and baffling scientists trying to understand its virulent resurgence.
As of Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had confirmed 226 cases of infection with enterovirus 68. But it is likely that many times that number have been stricken. One case involved an adult, and no deaths have been linked to the infection.
“What the C.D.C. is reporting is clearly the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, the division director of infectious diseases at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.... Some report that the influx of children to hospitals is “almost outweighing the resources available,” she said.
Enteroviruses are common, but this strain is not. Symptoms in the current outbreak resemble those of a bad cold, including body aches and cough. But some children progress to wheezing and having breathing difficulties. Scientists say they do not know why it is happening.