When the coronavirus pandemic began children were rarely infected by the virus. However, the delta variant changed the situation and a larger number of children are getting COVID-19 infections. Unfortunately the problems do not stop with the delta variant surge. Another problem that has been recently arising is a surge in the number of cases of young children who have contracted both COVID-19 as well as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
NPR reported that pediatric hospitals in Texas as well as across the nation have seen children who have unseasonably early RSV infections. The RSV is generally a mild illness with symptoms similar to a cold in adults. However, when very young children get infected with RSV it can lead to pneumonia and bronchiolitis, which can be fatal.
Last year RSV was dormant as most people were wearing masks. Dr. Pia Pannaraj, an infectious disease specialist at the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles told NPR that last year during all the outbreaks of COVID-19 all the social restriction measures were in place and the nation “did not see RSV the way we normally see it.”
Dr. Pannaraj said that it meant that infants and young children, who would have otherwise got the infection, did not get it. Now, after many states have removed mask mandates and other restrictions doctors are seeing a resurgence of RSV.
RSV is generally seen at the end of the year during late fall, winter and early spring as per information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, this year it has come in summer, in the final week of June in Texas and pediatricians are surprised by this. It is also unfortunate that some children are getting both COVID-19 and RSV.
Dr. Pannaraj also said that parents and doctors have to be extra careful and look out for symptoms such as coughing, lack of appetite, sleeping and lethargy among children. They may also suddenly stop breathing. She said that the symptoms of RSV were similar to that of COVID-19 and both parents and pediatricians should look out for symptoms of both the infections in children.