Enterovirus targets children in central United States

Sept. 12, 2014

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 82 cases of respiratory illness caused by enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), a non-polio enterovirus, have now been confirmed in six states. Testing has identified the virus in these samples from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky and Missouri. At least twelve states have submitted samples for testing. Testing for EV-D68 is largely done by state health departments and the CDC.

The St. Louis, Kansas City, and Denver areas have been among the hardest hit so far, but the virus is expected to spread across much of the nation. The outbreak apparently coincided with the beginning weeks of the school year. Young people who are most severely affected develop serious breathing difficulties and require emergency inpatient care.

EV-D68 infections are thought to occur less commonly than infections with other enteroviruses. However, CDC does not know how many infections and deaths from EV-D68 occur each year in the United States. Healthcare professionals are not required to report this information to health departments. Also, CDC does not have a surveillance system that specifically collects information on EV-D68 infections. Any data that CDC receives about EV-D68 infections or outbreaks are voluntarily provided by labs to CDC’s National Enterovirus Surveillance System (NESS). This system collects limited data, focusing on circulating types of enteroviruses and parechoviruses.

The CDC held a media telebriefing on the outbreak earlier this week. Read the transcript of the media update.

Read more