CDC announces faster test for enterovirus D68

Federal health officials announced Tuesday that they've developed a faster lab test to diagnose the rare enterovirus D68 amid a large outbreak of the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the test would come in handy as the agency moves through a backlog of roughly 1,000 specimens submitted since mid-September.

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"When rare or uncommon viruses suddenly begin causing severe illness, CDC works quickly to develop diagnostic tests to enhance our response and investigations," said Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

"This new lab test will reduce what would normally take several weeks to get results to a few days," she said. 

The new test is part of the CDC's stepped up response to the enterovirus, which, next to Ebola, has generated significant attention after sickening hundreds of U.S. children.

A handful of children have died while infected with the virus. The latest was a Michigan toddler, who passed away last week.

The CDC warned that its new test will likely raise the number of confirmed cases of enterovirus in the coming weeks. "These increases will not reflect changes in real time or mean that the situation is getting worse," the agency said in a statement.