NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – North Texas doctors say it’s just a matter of time before a virus sweeping the Midwest makes it way here. The rare respiratory virus is called “enterovirus 68” and it mimics a summer cold.

The nasty illness has already hit 10 states hard and sent thousands of kids to the hospital.

According the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cases have been documented or are being confirmed as close as Oklahoma, and also in Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia.

“Viruses don’t respect state lines,” said Dr. Justin Smith, a pediatrician with Cook Children’s in Lewisville. “I’m sure we will start seeing cases in North Texas at some point.”

Dr. Smith said with children heading back to school this is typically a busy time in doctors’ offices. He fears this virus cold spread quickly.

“If your child is showing symptoms of the common cold be on the look out for their breathing, especially in those kids who have asthma,” Dr. Smith urged. “If their asthma starts acting up, or even if they don’t, if they just seem like they are having trouble breathing or wheezing it’s time to get them to be seen [by a doctor] a little faster.”

Caroline Pricer felt a little under the weather on Monday. Her mom says the two-year-old has been fighting some kind of a bug. Pricer said she dad plans to take her daughter to the doctor but did so even quicker after hearing about this illness.

“I was like ‘oh my gosh. That’s kind of scary.’ I was a little bit concerned for her.”

Since affected children have been as small as infants and as old as teenagers, Pricer said she will be even more diligent. “I’m going to keep an eye on it, because I’m actually around a lot of kids that are school-aged and I know that school-age is probably more likely to get it [enterovirus 68] because of all the kids that they are around.”

Doctors aren’t sure how the virus spreads though the back-to-school season is a normal time for illnesses to spread among children.

Symptoms of enterovirus 68 include runny nose, coughing and difficulty breathing. Dr. Smith said “wheezing,” should always be a red flag.

The virus can spread through sneezing, so health officials are again impressing the importance of good hand washing practices.
CBS 11 News checked with several health departments and was told that there are no enterovirus 68 cases that have been reported in North Texas yet, but they are checking with doctors and hospitals.

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