09/14/2014 03:32 EDT | Updated 11/14/2014 05:59 EST

Enterovirus D-68: Alberta testing for strain after spike in child hospital admissions

An Alberta children's hospital says it has seen a spike in the number of children admitted for respiratory problems in the past several weeks and is adding new beds to the pediatric unit to keep up with demand.

Alberta Health Services says it has seen a spike in "respiratory-related admissions" at the Alberta Children's Hospital since the end of August. While that isn't unusual in and of itself — the "September spike" is well-documented — it comes as doctors in the U.S. grapple with the spread of enterovirus D-68, which has been sending more children to intensive care wards in that country than the typical common cold.

Bruce Conway, spokesperson for AHS, says the health authority is running lab tests to see whether the strain currently sending children to hospital in Alberta is the same strain circulating in the U.S.

Enterovirus is not uncommon but the D-68 strain tends to cause more serious symptoms including wheezing, trouble breathing and children not eating.

No children have died during the outbreak of the strain in the U.S. but doctors there say it has caused unusually severe symptoms.

There have been 82 cases of D-68 in Canada over the past 15 years and there is no vaccine or antiviral therapy.

Most children recover without lasting problems and treatment includes keeping the child home, administering plenty of fluids and ensuring the child gets rest.