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Despite Outbreak, Illinois Virus Cases Remain Low - Why?

A rare respiratory illness continues to spread. The Centers for Disease Control has confirmed the first case in New Jersey. But it's hard to tell the status of the outbreak in Illinois. The state was one of the first to have confirmed cases of the enterovirus strain.

It was in mid-to-late August when a Chicago hospital noticed a surge in patients with respiratory problems. The Centers for Disease Control confirmed that of the 14 specimens submitted, 11 tested positive for what is known as enterovirusD68.

Since, there has been national attention, and concern, about the sickness, with cases popping up in other states.

And yet, nearly a month later, the number of confirmed cases in Illinois remains at 11. That's despite Quincy's Blessing Hospital and others reporting more children with symptoms someone with enterovirus D68 would have.

But it may or may not actually be that strain.

"At this point there has not been any testing done to confirm the virus," Blessing spokeswoman Lisa Neisen says.

Which may be why Illinois hasn't seen an uptick in the figures. Neisen says after Blessing experienced a rash of kids coming to the emergency room with respiratory ailments over the Labor Day weekend, it took action.

"We put visiting restrictions in place to restrict children under the age of 12 from visiting Blessing hospital patients until further notice," she says.

Melaney Arnold, a spokeswoman for Illinois' public health department says the state has sent in further samples to the CDC for testing, though she would not say how many, nor did she know how long it would take to get results.

"At this time, we do not have information to share on the numbers of specimens sent to the CDC for testing," wrote another IDPH spokeswoman, Sheila Porter, in an email Wednesday.

The CDC did not promptly return a call seeking comment on its testing procedures.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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