September 5, 2014 / 10:45 PM / 3 years ago

Illinois hospital asks children not to visit due to unknown virus

(Reuters) - A hospital in Illinois has barred children under 12 from visiting the facility until further notice due to an outbreak of an unknown respiratory virus that has affected more than 70 young children in the area, hospital officials said on Friday.

More than 70 children complaining of respiratory virus symptoms visited the Blessing Hospital in Quincy, southwest Illinois, during the Labor Day weekend, they said.

Hospital spokeswoman Lisa Neisen said the hospital will not release the status of the children.

The virus, has yet to be identified, but resembles HEV68, a respiratory infection that broke out in nearby St. Louis and Kansas City a week earlier, Dr. Robert Merrick, an epidemiologist at the hospital, said in a statement.

Hannibal Regional Healthcare System in nearby Hannibal, Missouri, which issued a similar warning to children, lists the symptoms on its Facebook page as fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, mouth blisters, body and muscle aches and rash.

Last week, St. Louis Children’s Hospital reported that intakes related to the virus increased 50 percent and Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, had 300 cases of children with the virus.

Reporting by Mark Guarino in Chicago; Editing by Brendan O'Brien and Sandra Maler

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