After taking a two-year hiatus, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, RSV and influenza have roared back to the forefront in pediatricians’ offices and children’s hospitals across the country. RSV is a common seasonal respiratory infection, with the vast majority of cases being mild. However, this year has been different due to a large spike in the respiratory infection that is swamping pediatric units across the country.
The number of children falling ill with the respiratory infection — and hospitalizations with serious illness — is significantly greater than usual.
Many pediatric hospitals have been at capacity for weeks due to an early surge in common seasonal pathogens including respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. Pediatric hospitalizations among children under 5 are outpacing those for Covid-19, recent CDC data shows. Public-health experts warn that the spread of Covid-19 and a phenomenon known as ‘viral interference’ over the past few years may have helped suppress the spread of RSV and flu in the United States. Children are no longer utilizing the same precautions of masking and social distancing, which may also be a factor in high levels of RSV and flu infection.
This early outbreak of threatening viruses around the US has health experts warning of a "Tridemic" of RSV, influenza, and Covid-19. Health experts report that transmission of one respiratory virus can make a person more vulnerable to another, making viral co-infections a possibility with worse outcomes.
Parents of young children should help their child, when possible, avoid touching their face with unwashed hands and encourage them to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds. If washing hands with soap and water is not available, parents should use hand sanitizer that is effective against viruses and bacteria.
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