Hundreds of children have been hospitalized across several states with a respiratory illness that seems like a cold but can grow far worse, CNN reports. Colorado, Missouri, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, and Oklahoma have already called the CDC for help in tackling an enterovirus that appears to be EV-D68. The current hospitalizations may be "just the tip of the iceberg in terms of severe cases," says a CDC director. "We're in the middle of looking into this. We don't have all the answers yet." The virus itself resembles a bad cold (nasty summer colds are often enteroviruses) but can become life-threatening, especially for children with asthma, CBS News reports.
A hospital in Kansas City has seen about 450 kids come in with the virus: "I would call it unprecedented," says a hospital spokesman. In Colorado, the parents of 13-year-old Will Cornejo were shocked to see him gasping for air just hours after he came down with a common cold, CBS Denver reports. "He was OK. Then he was unconscious. It was unreal," his mom tells the Denver Post. "I thought my heart would come out of my chest. It was so horrible." One of dozens of Colorado kids hospitalized with EV-D68, Will is recovering but still weak in an ICU. Symptoms for the enterovirus include rash, coughing, sneezing, fever, and body and muscle aches; the effects are usually mild but might "contribute to death" in "some cases," notes CNN.