DENVER (KDVR) — According to health experts, there is an early start to the cold and flu seasons this year nationwide. There are also increasing hospitalizations for RSV, respiratory syncytial virus, which is common in babies.
Doctors said almost all children by the time they are two years old will have had RSV.
Experts said that one or two out of every 100 children younger than 6 months old with an RSV infection will be hospitalized. Like many respiratory illnesses, cases increase during the colder months.
The Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children has seen double the cases this week compared to the same week last year.
Now, Dr. Steve Cobb said there is no need for immediate alarm because a year ago some people were likely still taking a few pandemic precautions and an increase back to pre-pandemic levels is possible.
“I think we’re gonna see a year that’s a lot more typical than what we saw during the active phase of the pandemic, right? So we all learned some things, we learned that we can completely shut down respiratory viruses, but to do that, we have to shut down everything right? We can’t go anywhere. We have to wear masks everywhere. We can’t congregate,” Cobb said. “I think all of us in healthcare expect to see a far more typical RSV season, a far more typical influenza season.”
However, Cobb explains what to expect when it comes to a possible surge.
“I don’t think we’re going to know for several weeks, we’re just seeing the start of that curve. It could look like a typical year or, because we’ve not had these viruses circulating lately, it may be worse. I think a lot of us are preparing for a more aggressive respiratory season than in years past but we won’t know for several weeks,” said Cobb.
Hospitals around the country are seeing a surge in hospitalizations, some have even increased their capacity to keep up. Cobb doesn’t believe Colorado will get to that level, but he did say if it does get to that point they are prepared.
So what should parents be looking out for?
Typically symptoms present like a mild cold or flu but can escalate and turn into bronchiolitis or pneumonia. That is when there is a cause for concern.
Cobb explains signs that the illness has gone too far.
“You know if the respiratory rate of the infant’s breathing is a lot more times a minute than you’re used to it. You can see that, you don’t even have to count it, you didn’t have to time it, that’s concerning, you should go to the emergency department. If the muscles that you can see [in their neck] look like they’re straining to breathe, that’s bad news, you got to go to the emergency room. If the kid is wheezing, that’s a good time to go to the urgent care,” Cobb said.
At this time, there is no vaccine or specific treatment for RSV other than staying hydrated and managing the fever.
In very severe cases, kids could need intubation or a ventilator, but Cobb said the recovery time for kiddos is quick.
Cobb said the only way to know you have it is to test for it, that process is similar to a COVID test.