Blessing Hospital officials are restricting children under 12 from visiting patients until further notice.

The restriction is due to an outbreak of a respiratory virus among children in the area.  Hospital officials say over 70 children came to the Blessing Emergency Center over the weekend with breathing difficulties. Seven were admitted for treatment of the as yet unidentified virus. Blessing Hospital is working with the Illinois Department of Public Health to identify the virus affecting area children.

Epidemiologist Dr. Robert Merrick says it could be the same virus that hit St. Louis and Kansas City last week. Health officials say that outbreak was caused by HEV68—a respiratory infection that affects mainly children.