Hospital Sets Patient Record as (Mystery) Virus Spreads
Medical officials admitted a record number of children to a local hospital over the weekend because of what they believe to be a rare respiratory virus spreading throughout the country.
Although there's been no confirmed cases of the enterovirus at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, officials admitted 540 patients Friday, said Dr. Derek Wheeler, associate chief of staff at the hospital.
The previous record was around 515, Wheeler said.
Some reports out of Missouri and Colorado suggest the virus, with symptoms similar to the common cold, brought sicker patients to hospitals, Wheeler said.
"We're just seeing the (increased) volumes, we haven't seen (patients) sicker than usual yet," he said.
Hospitals from other states have placed restrictions on visitations, but Wheeler said there are no plans to do that in Cincinnati.
The virus is similar to what doctors treat during cold and flu season. That means nothing really changes if a child comes down with the rare virus, he said.
"The bottom line is this is a virus you wouldn't treat with antibiotics, so other than the (high-level of) interest, there's no reason we would need to know it's an enterovirus," Wheeler said.
This particular type of enterovirus — EV-D68 — is uncommon, but not new. It was first identified in the 1960s.
"I suspect that it's something that hasn't been around for a while and so there's a lot of people susceptible to it," Wheeler said.
The number of patients began to spike around Labor Day, which means the virus should run its course in Greater Cincinnati sometime over the next week, Wheeler said.
Wheeler said parents can prevent their children from getting the virus by making them wash their hands frequently and drink plenty of fluids.
If they do suspect their child contracted the virus, he suggested parents call their pediatrician first because urgent care facilities will be busy.