The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Rare respiratory virus spreads to 22 states

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That rare respiratory illness sickening children around the country continues to crop up in new places. It has been confirmed in 22 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday, appearing in three states where it had not been previously: Georgia, Michigan and Washington state.

These children are facing an uncommon enterovirus strain. While enteroviruses in general are quite common, this particular strain — enterovirus 68 — has not cropped up terribly often since it was first identified in 1962. It can cause severe breathing problems, a particular danger for children who may suffer from asthma or other respiratory issues.

Testing has found 160 cases spread across these states that span from coast to coast, though public health officials have warned that the actual number of cases is likely much higher. In addition, there are other states where clusters of children are facing similar respiratory illnesses that could turn out to be this virus. (Health officials in Ohio and Utah have told The Post that they suspect they have cases of the strain.)

Head here for a list of the other states with this virus. Here is more information on the enterovirus and how it was first identified as part of this recent surge. And here is why we are only gradually learning about how many states have this virus.