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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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September 8th, 2014
05:41 PM ET

How to protect your children against a respiratory virus hitting the Midwest

(CNN) – A respiratory virus is sending hundreds of children to hospitals in Missouri and possibly throughout the Midwest and beyond, officials say.

The unusually high number of hospitalizations reported now could be "just the tip of the iceberg in terms of severe cases," said Mark Pallansch, a virologist and director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Viral Diseases.

Ten states have contacted the CDC for assistance in investigating clusters of enterovirus: Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Kentucky. Four - Colorado, Illinois, Missouri and Iowa - have confirmed cases of Enterovirus D68, also known as EV-D68.

Enteroviruses, which bring on symptoms like a very intense cold, aren't unusual.

"If you have any respiratory difficulty, that's when you're going to have to access care. That's why it's so important for children who have a history of asthma, to get that under control," said pediatric infectious disease physician Dr. Christine Nyquist.

To protect children against enteroviruses, parents should follow the same steps to avoid catching a cold: cover mouths when coughing, wash hands, avoid others who are sick, and vaccinate against influenza and whooping cough, said Nyquist.

For more of our interview with Dr. Christine Nyquist, check out the video above.

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