Last weekend, 13-year-old Will Cornejo of Lone Tree, Colorado, came down with what his mother thought was a cold. A few days later, he had an asthma attack that his albuterol inhaler failed to stop, and his breathing grew shallow.
"His lips were blue. He was white as a ghost," Cornejo's mother said. "I turned him over, and his eyes were rolling back in his head. He was completely limp. But he was still breathing. I called 911."
Cornejo was airlifted to Rocky Mountain Hospital in Denver and put on a breathing tube, according to CNN.
Rocky Mountain Hospital has now had at least 25 such children hospitalized for the rare respiratory virus, which health officials suspect is enterovirus 68. It's one of dozens of hospitals around the country that are reporting a spike in the mysterious ailment.
The disease comes on like a severe cold, causing coughing, difficulty breathing, and wheezing. Asthma or allergies seem to make it worse.
Thousands of children around the country have fallen ill so far, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have warned that this might be just "the tip of the iceberg."
The surprising speed with which the virus has conquered much of the Midwest provides an interesting glimpse at how an otherwise obscure disease can become common given the right conditions—in this case, the first days of the school year.