Expert’s Corner: UMMS pediatrician explains rare respiratory illness outbreak in parts of country

By Bryan Goodchild

UMass Medical School Communications

September 11, 2014

The Centers for Disease Control is warning of a spike in cases of a rare respiratory illness identified as enterovirus D68 that is sickening children in about a dozen states, though none have yet been reported in New England.

“Enterovirus D68 is not a new virus,” said pediatrician Christina Hermos, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics. “What is different about this outbreak is that it seems to be larger than previous outbreaks. There are reports out of Denver and Kansas City of several hundred children presenting for care and a good proportion of them needing respiratory support until they are able to fight off the virus.”

The primary symptom of the illness is a severe upper respiratory tract infection, prompting emergency room visits for supportive care, Dr. Hermos said. Children with underlying conditions such as asthma are most severely affected.

Learn more in this Expert's Corner video.

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