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There is a respiratory virus affecting record numbers of children in the Midwest that is prompting local officials to prepare in case it reaches New Jersey.

Cases of EV-D68, an enterovirus which acts like a cold with more severe symptoms, had been reported in children in at least 10 states by Tuesday morning, with the most reported cases in Missouri and Illinois.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, EV-D68 is difficult to distinguish from a common cold, so there may be many more unreported cases out there.

The CDC said Monday the outbreak would likely get worse before it gets better.

"Respiratory infections like this can spread quite quickly across the U.S.," said Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. "We want people to be on the lookout."

In all, hundreds of children have been hospitalized so far, and infants, children and teenagers with asthma are most at risk because the symptoms may exacerbate the condition.

Enteroviruses are common and occur mostly in the summer and fall, peaking in September.

There are more than 100 types and 10 to 15 million cases occur every year, many of which cause respiratory illness. Symptoms are more likely in infants, children and teens. Most people infected with enteroviruses do not get sick.

EV-D68 is a less common and rarely reported enterovirus. Initial symptoms are similar to a bad cold, but those symptoms may transition to mild to severe respiratory illness and fever.

There is no vaccine for EV-D68, which was first identified in 1962 and there is no specific treatment for the virus. Most cases are mild, according to the CDC.

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