Fifteen children, ages 6 months to 14 years, are being treated at Seattle Children's Hospital for a severe respiratory illness known as entero virus.
Public health officials in King County are waiting to hear if it's the same strain that has sickened hundreds of children nationwide. Officials caution that this is not an outbreak, and there is no cause for alarm.
The virus typically causes illness that looks like a common cold, with runny nose and a cough, and lasts about a week.
Most children recover with no lasting problems.
Children with asthma, however, may be more susceptible to serious illness. Most of the patients at Children’s have asthma or other underlying health problems.
It’s not clear why kids are more susceptible to the disease than adults.
Dr. Jeff Duchin, of Seattle-King County Public Health, said it could be that children have not lived long enough to build up immunity to different viruses.
He advises families to make sure their children have their asthma symptoms under control.
State health department spokesman Marqise Allen says there's no vaccine for enterovirus, but the best way to avoid it is through prevention.
“One of the key ways of prevention are those things with the regular cold and flu season, you really want people to wash their hands, general cold etiquette of covering your cough, covering your sneezes,” Allen said. “And if you're sick, stay at home.”
Allen says that if you or your child has a cold and is having difficulty breathing, you should get checked out by a health care provider.
Health officials said Thursday that additional testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will confirm whether it is a particular strain of the enterovirus.
The CDC says cases have been confirmed in six states, including Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky and Missouri.