Enterovirus D68 sickens more than a dozen in New York

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Enterovirus under the microscope.

(CNN) — More than a dozen cases of Enterovirus D68 have been confirmed in New York state, according to officials.

“EV-D68 is causing cases of severe respiratory illness … sometimes resulting in hospitalization, especially among children with asthma,” the NYS Department of Health said in a statement Friday.

Enteroviruses are quite common in September; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 10 to 15 million people are infected by these viruses each year. But doctors believe this particular type of enterovirus, Enterovirus D68, is causing more serious problems than others have in years past.

As of September 11, more than 80 cases in six other states — Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky and Missouri — have been confirmed to be EV-D68, according to the CDC.

New York is the first state in the Northeast with confirmed cases.

On Thursday, media reports of kids flooding ERs in Alabama and Washington state spoke to the spread of the virus. Other states, including Michigan, Georgia, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah, are also investigating clusters of respiratory illnesses. Several have sent samples to the CDC for testing.

New York sent additional samples from patients with severe respiratory illness to the CDC for confirmation of Enterovirus D68.

The virus is hard to track, as so many enteroviruses cause similar symptoms, and hospitals generally do not test for specific types.

Enteroviruses usually present like the common cold; symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose and a cough. Most people recover without any treatment. But if your child appears to be having trouble breathing, take him or her to a doctor right away.

“It is important that we follow common sense rules to prevent the spread of this virus, as we do for flu and other contagious illnesses,” said New York acting State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “Because there is no specific treatment or vaccination against this virus, our best defense is to prevent it by practicing proper hygiene.”

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