The CDC has begun using a new and faster laboratory test to identify enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), which has sent hundreds, if not thousands, of children to the hospital this summer and fall with breathing problems, and has killed several of them, the agency announced.

The CDC said it developed a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) test that will allow it to process 180 specimens a day compared with 40 specimens a day with the previous technology.

The agency cautioned that accelerated testing will cause the number of confirmed cases to shoot up. The rapid increase should not be construed as a real-time change or worsening of the EV-D68 outbreak, they noted.