Virus Hitting The U.S. Could Be 'Tip Of Iceberg,' CDC Official Says

Michael Martinez, John Newsome, Elizabeth Cohen and Jen Christensen | | September 9, 2014

A respiratory virus is sending hundreds of children to hospitals throughout the Midwest and beyond, health officials say.  The unusually high number of hospitalizations reported 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.  Twelve states have contacted the CDC for assistance in investigating clusters of enterovirus: Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, Georgia, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Utah. Four -- Colorado, Illinois, Missouri and Iowa -- have confirmed cases of Enterovirus D68, also known as EV-D68.

At a news briefing Monday, the CDC confirmed that samples it tested from children who had been hospitalized in Illinois and in Kansas City, Missouri, did show signs of the EV-D68 virus, meaning there is a possible regional outbreak.  The Iowa Department of Public Health confirmed that EV-D68 cases have been identified in Iowa. Officials are hearing of illnesses across the state, they say, though there is not a firm count of how many people have been infected.

Dr. Christine Nyquist, medical director of infection control at Children's Hospital Colorado, said the hospital sent around 25 samples to the CDC from patients with respiratory illness. Around 75% were confirmed to be EV-D68. The hospital has seen a 12% to 15% increase in emergency room visits and admissions this month compared with the same time frame last year, she said...