Emergency rooms see spike in children with respiratory symptoms

Emergency departments across the country are seeing a spike in pediatric patients and it’s not for COVID cases.

During the week of July, 10th the CDC recorded over 2,000 respiratory syncytial virus cases nationally compared to just 20 RSV cases around the same time last year.

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Doctors at Children’s National Hospital say the number of cold and respiratory cases they’re seeing this summer are in line with what they usually see in the fall when children go back to school.

They’re also seeing more babies, 18 months and younger getting sick which they believe is due to the children not having any chance to build up their immune systems during the pandemic.

"Those babies that were born in late 2019 into spring of 2020, they were locked down in the winter. A lot of daycares were closed. They were not around other children. Their parents were probably following really strict precautions. What we know about the immune system is it responds to viruses. So if you get a little virus, it revs up your immune system and makes it work. These children weren’t exposed because that exposure just wasn’t there," Dr. Sarah Combs, Emergency Room Attending Physician at Children’s National Hospital said.

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The emergency departments are dealing with this increase of patients on top of their typical summer emergencies of children coming in with cuts, bruises, broken bones and heat related illnesses.

They say respiratory illnesses are normal among children and don’t often become serious but if you have a high-risk child you should consider taking some precautions.

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"You do want to be cautious. So if you have a newborn that is really young, those one or two month olds, if you have a not so new born that was born prematurely or if you have a child with let’s say severe asthma you do want to be a little more on the lookout and a little more cautious. So we recommend really good hand washing, keeping your distance from really large crowds and if you or someone you know is sick, stay away," Combs said.

Dr. Combs is also urging parents to make sure their children are up to date on immunizations.