Healthbeat: Health officials look at how RSV and COVID restrictions relate

Healthbeat

KINGSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — As children prepare to return to school safely, another virus besides covid is cause for concern it’s a respiratory virus called RSV that’s been showing up in kids an awful lot this summer.

RSV is typically seen in winter or early spring, but this year it’s been hitting hard since June. It’s why parents everywhere need to know the symptoms and take the necessary precautions to keep their kids healthy

“I was coughing a whole lot and I was really chesty. Sometimes I’d have difficulty breathing even,” said 14-year-old Noah Greco who is just getting over a two-week illness.

He tested negative for COVID but his doctor knew what he had was definitely a respiratory virus.

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, usually strikes children before they’re two years old but can happen at any age. It’s transmitted when a child comes in contact with fluid from the nose or mouth of a person infected with RSV. While the virus typically results in mild, cold-like symptoms, that’s not quite the case this summer. Blame that on the COVID pandemic.

“Since most children have not been as sick because of all the mask-wearing and social distancing, a lot of these kids’ immune systems are kind of like on holiday,” said Pediatrician Alvaro Reymunde, MD at PAK Pediatrics.

The more severe cases of RSV can cause bronchitis or pneumonia and can be life-threatening, and that was before COVID and its variants became an issue.

“The concern would be if you would get both COVID and RSV,” said Dr. Reymunde, he also confirmed that we do not what would happen if someone was to contract both.

But we do know the number of pediatric cases of both COVID and RSV is rising sharply in many states. It’s why Dr. Reymunde says don’t be so dismissive about symptoms including but not limited to a nagging cough, runny nose, and congestion or trouble breathing.

“There is a potential that these kids or adults can get very sick,” said Dr. Reymunde.

Children with severe RSV symptoms are typically treated with antiviral medication and steroids to reduce inflammation.

Dr. Reymunde says the most vulnerable to severe RSV illness include those with chronic heart or lung conditions, premature or low birth weight children, and kids exposed to secondhand smoke.

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