(ABC News) -- A respiratory illness that has already sickened more than a thousand children in 10 states is likely to become a nationwide problem, doctors say.
The disease hasn't been officially identified but officials suspect a rare respiratory virus called human enterovirus 68. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus is related to the rhinovirus, which causes the common cold.
The disease hasn't been officially identified in every state, but in some states a rare respiratory virus called human enterovirus 68 has been found. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus is related to the rhinovirus, which causes the common cold.
According to Mark Pallansch, director of the Division of Viral Diseases at the CDC, similar cases to the ones in Colorado have been cropping up across the U.S. At least 10 states -- Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Georgia -- have reported suspected outbreaks of human enterovirus 68 and requested CDC support.
"Viruses don't tend to respect borders," ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser said. "It is only 10 states now, but it's going to be across the country. So if your state doesn't have it now, watch for it, it's coming."
Doctors say they are not even sure yet how this particular virus spreads, though the back-to-school season is a normal time for illnesses to spread among children.
"This is a very common time for outbreaks. Kids come back to school, they like to share things, they bring them home to their little brothers and sisters, and enteroviruses tend to occur in the summer," Besser said. "But this one, this particular Enterovirus 68, is very rare and they have no idea why it showed up this year."
At Children's Hospital Colorado in Denver, officials say that between Aug. 18 and Sept. 4, doctors saw more than 900 pediatric patients with symptoms of the respiratory virus in the emergency room. Of those who came in, 86 were admitted into the hospital and a handful ended up in the intensive care unit.
"It can start just like a cold -- runny nose, sneezing, coughs -- but it's the wheezing you have to watch out for," Besser said.