Mystery respiratory virus plagues thousands across the US

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Respiratory Virus Affecting Thousands Across U.S.

(NEWSY) More than 900 children and teenagers across Colorado have been sickened by a mysterious respiratory illness that is putting patients in hospitals' intensive care units for treatment, according to local doctors.

The disease, which is called human enterovirus 68, has not been seen previously in Denver, Dr. Raju Meyappan, who works at the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, according to CBS affiliate KCNC-TV.

HLN says doctors believe human enterovirus 68 may be related to a similar strain that causes the common cold.

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Mystery respiratory virus plagues thousands across the US
The disease, which is called human enterovirus 68, has not been seen previously in Denver. (Image framegrab courtesy: Al Jazeera)
The disease, which is called human enterovirus 68, has not been seen previously in Denver. (Image framegrab courtesy: HLN)
The disease, which is called human enterovirus 68, has not been seen previously in Denver.
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"What doctor Meyappan is seeing is how quickly this virus becomes life threatening especially in kids with even mild asthma," KCNC-TV said.

HLN reports: "Doctors think a virus related to one of those that causes the common cold is creating the outbreak."

People infected with the virus initially experience cold-like symptoms including fever, sneezing, coughing and body aches -- making it difficult to properly diagnose until more serious symptoms show up like that of teenager Will Cornejo.

"To go from a cold to being probably minutes away from death, that's kind of scary," said Matt Cornejo, the teen's father, who talked with ABC affiliate KMGH-TV.

"He just passed out, had his eyes rolled back in his head," Cornejo's mom told local TV station KRDO-TV.

Although Colorado is one of the states experiencing the most severe outbreaks -- the rest of the U.S. isn't in the clear. Just like the common cold, enterovirus 68 seems to spread easily.

CNN reports: "Health officials in ten other states from North Carolina to Oklahoma have also reported suspected outbreaks."

Al Jazeera says: "Some states are reporting seventy new cases a day. Kansas, Illinois, Ohio and Indiana are among them but Colorado and Missouri have been hit the hardest."

Because viruses are not treatable with antibiotics, doctors have been giving patients steroids and medication to help improve breathing - as respiratory problems seem to be the most threatening symptom. But the majority of the emphasis is being put on prevention.

That includes washing your hands, disinfecting items that are touched often and avoiding touching your face, especially your eyes and nose.

Fortunately, there are no reports of any deaths from this outbreak.

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