Sky News US Team
A rare respiratory illness has sent more than 1,000 children to hospital in cities across the US Midwest.
The symptoms experienced by the children are similar to those of a common cold – coughing, difficulty breathing, with or without fever.
But those affected by Enterovirus 68 become seriously ill within hours.
Other symptoms include runny nose, sneezing, cough, mouth blisters, body and muscle aches and rash.
Experts say the current outbreak is spreading quickly.
According to USA Today, some 300 cases have been reported in Kansas City, Missouri, while at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver, Colorado, some 900 kids have reportedly been admitted in the last two weeks.
In total, 10 states have reported outbreaks: Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Georgia.
Experts fear the outbreak might get even worse, and are asking parents to be on the lookout for symptoms.
There is no antiviral therapy or vaccine.
The illness appears to be most common among very young children, often below the age of five, and children who have asthma.
Nurse and infectious disease specialist Lisa Caffery said as schools resume children are especially at risk of catching the virus.
“It’s easily spread from person to person through contact with respiratory secretions and so that’s why children are probably more at risk than adults, but adults can get it as well,” she told midwestern TV station WQAD.