Area hospitals working overtime to help children suffering from a virus

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – Hundreds of kids in Missouri, Illinois and across the Midwest are being infected by a virus.  A C.D.C. official said those numbers could be just the tip of the iceberg.

At St. Louis Children's Hospital doctors and nurses in the emergency room have been working hard for three weeks.  On some days they're seeing a 50 percent jump in patients.  A respiratory virus is being blamed.

Two year old Jordan hunt has a high fever and cold symptoms and his mom, Kara, is worried. Kara Hunt, said, "Making sure it doesn't end up being as serious as some of the other kids."  She has seen reports of enterovirus 68 making youngsters sick across the nation.  She said, "It's scary because it can turn bad fast."

St. Louis Children's Hospital brought in the Healthy Kids Express Asthma Van to handle all the extra patients. Inside the medical staff treats those who are not seriously ill, it also cuts down on wait times in the E.R. Dr. David Jaffe said, "It's extraordinary for us to use the van for supplemental space for emergency care."

The mobile medical unit is perfect for treating youngsters who have respiratory problems because year round the same unit goes out into the community to help kids who have asthma.  Lisa Heithaus, a  nurse, said, "They don't have to wait we're going to be able to see three patients out here that would be waiting in the E.R."

Some children need to be admitted to the hospital and some of them are so sick they're put in the intensive care unit.  Doctors said a lot of medical centers are experiencing the rise in the number of sick kids. Dr. Jaffe added, "Many centers particularly in the Midwest from Illinois to Colorado have reported similar increases in exactly this kind of disease in children."

There is no vaccine or cure for the illness. Doctors treat the symptoms much as they would treat asthma patients. The best way to prevent the spread is to wash your hands and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.

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