October 17, 2022 — Children’s hospitals nationwide are filling up with an unusually early spike in respiratory virus infections.
We are only at the beginning of cold and flu season in the U.S., but doctors are already seeing an unusually high number of children who are sick with respiratory infections.
The hospitalizations are mostly due to infections with influenza type A, RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), enterovirus, rhinovirus, or adenovirus.
The symptoms of these infections (and even COVID-19) are often indistinguishable, and typically include a runny nose, cough, or fever. Most kids feel sick for a few days and then get better.
While it is normal to see an uptick in respiratory infections as kids go back to school, doctors say it is unusual to see so many kids ending up in the hospital with severe symptoms.
According to Today, children’s hospitals in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Indiana, Nebraska and Louisiana have already reported being either at capacity or close to capacity due to the early surge in respiratory infections in kids.
Back in September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that hospitals in multiple parts of the U.S. were seeing “increases in pediatric hospitalizations in patients with severe respiratory illness” due to rhinovirus or enterovirus.
Some of these patients were infected with a virus that is also associated with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a rare but serious neurological complication that causes sudden limb weakness.
There is no vaccine for most of these common cold viruses. To help kids stay healthy, doctors recommend frequent hand-washing, covering coughs and sneezes, staying home when sick, and avoiding other people who may be sick.