-- The respiratory virus that’s been sweeping the nation and sending asthmatic children to the hospital may have only been officially reported in 97 children, but experts say that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
At UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland, about 20 children normally go to the intensive care unit each month with respiratory symptoms, said Hoyen, who heads the hospital’s pediatric infection control program. But for the last two months, the hospital’s intensive care unit has treated 80 children per month, she said.
“That’s fourfold over what we would normally get,” Hoyen said.
Although UH has not yet determined how many cases of enterovirus D68 it treated this summer, Hoyen said she can extrapolate the number of extra ICU patients over two months to guess how many children had less-severe cases, too.
“My guess is that this is probably in the thousands, because a lot of the kids probably had infections and their parents just thought it was a little cough,” she said. “They weren’t sick enough to seek actual medical attention.”
“So although the CDC is reporting 97 confirmed enterovirus cases, this number does not in any way reflect the true number of people who are infected or sick,” Besser said, adding that most local health departments have no way of testing for the virus and no reason to do so because there is no cure available. “My advice: forget about this number. Look to your health department.”
Besser said parents should simply ask their doctors whether enterovirus D68 is in their town and be vigilant if it is.