A respiratory virus has recently sent high numbers of children to the hospital.  Click to hear KMZU’s Kristie Cross speak with Pediatric Infectious Diseases Physician with Children’s Mercy Hospital Dr. Jason Newland:

Dr. Jason Newland

Hundreds of kids across several states, including Missouri, have been admitted to hospitals in recent weeks with what we now know is Enterovirus 68.  Dr. Newland talked about some of the symptoms they’re seeing.  “What the virus was causing was a lot of children to come into the hospital with respiratory distress,” said Newland, “They were breathing fast, runny nose, coughing, and they also seemed to be asthmatic, so they were wheezing a lot and then we would have the asthmatics come in and wheeze even more.  We would also have non-asthmatic, people who had never been diagnosed with asthma, show up this way and need to be admitted with intervention such as Albuterol and need it where they inhale continuously.  In some cases it was quite severe and required the intensive care unit.”

Dr. Newland said it’s important to know when to seek medical attention for your child.  “I think the child that has the normal cold that you’re accustomed to, unless you’re uncomfortable with it for some reason, you don’t need to speak to the physician,” said Newland, “Those children that are breathing  faster than normal or if it appears the skin is going inside the ribs or their nose seems to be flaring our, they need to be evaluated.  And always, if you’re ever concerned, I think seeing your health care provider, especially when it’s your own pediatrician or family practitioner, is always a great idea in conditions like this.”

Fortunately for parents, this isn’t necessarily a trend of things to come.  “I think we always jump to that,” said Newland, “We see something bad before it’s expected and we think that automatically means our viruses coming up are going to be worse.  We don’t know that.  We have no other signs of that right now.  I think what this does show is that viruses can be severe  and we know a lot about one of these viruses that’s about to come into our communities and that’s influenza.  So, it’s time to start thinking about how we’re going to get everyone vaccinated and everyone needs to do that before we get into influenza season.”

Dr. Newland encourages both adults and children to practice effective hand washing which means having hands in soap and water for a minimum of 15 seconds.  The physician also asks parents to keep their children home and away from social settings when they’re sick in order to prevent further spread of illness.