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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that a wave of Utah kids coughing and wheezing this fall had Enterovirus D68.

Twelve of 22 samples sent to the CDC two weeks ago tested positive for the highly contagious virus.

Doctors from Primary Children's Hospital and the Utah Department of Health said Tuesday the cold cluster likely is not over.

Primary Children's Hospital reported 37 new rhinovirus and enterovirus admissions in the past week.

"The rate of increase may be slowing, but we don't think we have passed the peak of the outbreak," said Dr. Andrew Pavia, the hospital's division chief of pediatric infectious diseases.

Utah is one of more than 20 states across the country where the virus has sickened mostly children and those with compromised immune systems.

The virus is related to rhinovirus, which causes the common cold. There is no specific vaccine for D68.

In Utah, the young people who tested positive with the virus ranged from infants to people in their early 20s. But the median age of patients was about 4 years old, Pavia said.

"It seems to be hitting young kids harder," he said.

The virus is affecting children who have asthma as well as those who don't, Pavia added, but kids with asthma are more likely to be hospitalized for severe symptoms.

"It's not that new," said Allyn Nakashima, epidemiologist at the Department of Health, "but it certainly has caused an epidemic across the U.S."

According to the CDC, enteroviruses cause between 10 million and 15 million infections a year, often hitting children who are in closer physical contact in schools and play areas than are most adults in the workplace. The start of school after summer vacation is considered a peak season for the infections.

Most children who get the virus show mild cold symptoms. Parents should bring kids to the doctor's office if they are wheezing or have a severe cough, Pavia said. If a child is short of breath or has blue lips or fingertips, parents should rush the child to the emergency room.

The best way to prevent the virus from spreading is for children and adults to wash their hands often and for at least 20 seconds, officials said, and to avoid going to school or work if they are sick.

Pavia said that most children with the virus have likely not been hospitalized because their symptoms are mild.

He predicted Thursday that the virus will likely "run its course in the next few weeks and then fade away."

But that doesn't mean the children's hospital won't continue to see more kids admitted.

"We're just seeing the tip of the iceberg," he said.

Here are some ways to keep the virus from spreading:

Follow the course you normally would to keep from getting the flu.

Wash hands often and with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth if you haven't washed your hands.

Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing drinks or food with sick people.

Disinfect frequently used surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone in the household is sick.

Source: Utah Department of Health