BOSTON (CBS) -- More than 150 children are being treated for possible cases of Enterovirus at Boston Children's Hospital, officials said Friday.
Doctors said they are seeing a sharp increase in the number of children with respiratory problems, and several with suspected cases of the virus are on life support. There are about 12 children in critical care and about 24 in intermediate care, doctors said.
The ages of the patients range from 2 years old to 10 years old, according to officials. The number of children being treated is about three times higher than what the hospital is used to seeing at this time of year.
Massachusetts General Hospital and Baystate Medical Center in Springfield reported suspected cases of Enterovirus earlier in the week. Lab samples are being sent to the Centers for Disease Control to confirm if the cases are Enterovirus D68.
"Kids who are really working hard to breathe. . . those are kids that need to be seen in the emergency department relatively quickly," Children's Hospital Dr. Michael Agus said.
Across the country, the CDC said 160 people from 22 states were confirmed to have Enterovirus D68, but no cases have been confirmed in Massachusetts. Testing for the virus is a complex and slow process, officials said.
Symptoms of the virus include coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, runny nose and sometimes fever.
If symptoms are mild, doctors are advising parents to keep children at home and treat the illness like a cold. But if more serious symptoms like a fever and difficulty breathing develop, children should be taken to a doctor.
Doctors are also encouraging parents to vaccinate children for the flu this season.
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