Help protect Colorado children from RSV hospitalization – Greeley Tribune

Respiratory season came early this year, with a record number of children affected. Homes, clinics and hospital emergency rooms are being hit hard by high doses of respiratory syncytial virus (better known as RSV), influenza has returned to Colorado and COVID-19 numbers are rising.

The wave of infections does not stop. It is important that we are all aware of this unusual respite and take steps to protect our most vulnerable members of the community.

RSV is a common virus that occurs every year. It affects most children before they turn 2 years old. Older children and adults get it too, but because the airways in young children’s lungs are so small, they can face more severe symptoms and even hospitalizations.

In October, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported the highest rates of pediatric RSV hospitalizations in the past five years, and admissions continue to rise. Over 40% of all breath tests in our hospital, including inpatient, outpatient and emergency care, are positive for RSV.

At the same time, the test positivity rate for COVID-19 in Colorado has increased by 9%. This rise in respiratory disease is not unique to our state: pediatric health systems across the country are seeing record numbers of RSV admissions. We are grateful for our state and local politicians, other hospitals and primary care providers who have played their part and offered help where they can.

Healthy adults can get RSV, but they will likely feel like they have a cold. Unaware of RSV, they can transmit the virus to children, including babies and young children with underlying medical conditions that make them susceptible to pneumonia and bronchiolitis (a condition that affects the small airways in the lungs, which become inflamed and blocked by secretions ).

It is important that everyone takes proactive steps to prevent children from getting sick.

These measures are not difficult to carry out. Remember to wash your hands frequently, stay home when you’re sick, cover your cough, and wear masks when you’re out in crowded places if you’re showing symptoms. If you’re a parent or caregiver, it’s also helpful to know the signs of RSV in your child.

Call your pediatrician if your child has a high fever and looks ill, although not all children with RSV get a fever. Also watch for worsening cough, wheezing, signs of dehydration, unusual irritability or inactivity, or refusal to breastfeed or bottle-feed.

If your child is having trouble breathing (rapid breathing, labored breathing with extra breathing muscles, blue lips), take them to the hospital right away.

If your child is not having trouble breathing, you will most likely care for them at home after contacting your pediatrician. Home care may include administering a fever reducer such as Tylenol, making sure they are resting and drinking plenty of fluids, and suctioning out the baby’s nasal secretions with a bladder or nasal aspirator. You can also encourage older children to blow their own noses.

To make breathing easier, using a humidifier to moisten the air and a warm shower or bath can help loosen mucus and open the airways. Influenza and COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for children six months and older to prevent serious illness.

Because RSV, influenza, and COVID-19 share similar symptoms, it can be difficult to know which virus a child has. You can bookmark this Children’s Hospital Colorado guide to respiratory viruses to hear what pediatric experts are saying, to find out what children have at any given time, and to learn what you can do to help them recover to help.

If we all do our part, we can help protect Colorado’s children during what is expected to remain an unpredictable but likely severe respiratory season.

— Suchitra Rao, MD, is a pediatric infectious disease specialist and resident at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Kevin Carney, MD, is a pediatric emergency medicine physician and associate chief medical officer at Children’s Hospital Colorado.