(KRON) — In addition to COVID-19 and the flu, there is something else for parents of young children to worry about.
It is called respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. It’s a respiratory virus that is common, but its hitting earlier this year and in bigger numbers.
Both UCSF Benioff Children’s hospital in Oakland and Packard Children’s hospital at Stanford are seeing something unusual this year. An October surge in RSV.
“In children, especially young children, and by young children, I mean under the age of two and certainly under the age of one is that RSV has a predilection to go into the chest. So, it causes a lot of mucus and inflammation in the chest, it can cause a pretty nasty cough and a cough that can last a long time,” said Dr. April Zaat, UCSF Benioff Children’s hospital.
Doctors said typically the most severe cases are in infants but now they are seeing severe cases in older children.
“It was a little surprising to have all of these two-year-olds, but these are all what we call these pandemic babies. So, they’re young kids that weren’t exposed to a lot of viruses in their first two years because they were at home. They don’t have the natural defenses to get over the colds as easily as you would expect for a normal two-year-old,” said Zaat.
Doctors said most children who get RSV do not need to be hospitalized and there are ways to avoid getting it.
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“To mitigate the likelihood of infection, people can undertake really good hand washing and make sure that you’re not interacting with people that have upper respiratory tract infections,” said Dr. David Cornfield, Lucile Packard Children’s hospital.
Doctors said this surge in RSV cases will likely continue through the winter months.
“While there are no vaccines for RSV bronchiolitis, there are vaccines for two other respiratory viral pathogens that are quite common currently. One is COVID-19, and the other is influenza. And giving your child those vaccines will significantly mitigate the risk across the course of the entire winter,” said Cornfield.