Speed Reads

Uncommon Cold

A rare respiratory virus in the Midwest is sending hundreds of kids to the hospital

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is looking into clusters of viral respiratory infections in 10 states, from Colorado across the Midwest and down to Georgia and North Carolina. The culprit is an enterovirus, at least in some cases the rare EV-D68, and the outbreaks are unusual in the hundreds of children being hospitalized with serious upper respiratory infections.

These hospitalizations may be "just the tip of the iceberg in terms of severe cases," CDC virologist Mark Pallansch told CNN on Sunday. "We're in the middle of looking into this.... We don't have all the answers yet."

The virus EV-D68 was first identified in the 1960s, and there have been fewer than 100 cases since then, CNN reports. So far the virus has been positively identified in a Kansas City outbreak, and is suspected in several other clusters, including sizable ones in Denver and Columbus, Ohio. It starts like a common cold, but then causes breathing problems. The outbreak seems to be worst in young children and kids with asthma. Here's more information from CNN, including tips on when parents should panic and how best to avoid getting infected in the first place. --Peter Weber