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Pediatricians concerned as RSV, influenza and COVID-19 spike at same time

Kid at doctors
Posted at 6:04 PM, Jun 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-02 13:46:24-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF)  — This summer, parents will want to watch out for three different viruses in kids: COVID-19, RSV and the flu.

According to pediatricians, they're all going around and spiking.

"They all cause fever, they can all cause runny nose and cough. They can all go from the upper respiratory tract to the lower respiratory tract and cause difficulty breathing," said Dr. James Antoon, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

This is the second consecutive year that RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) — a bug that usually causes disease in the winter — is making kids sick at the start of summer break. In 2021, the positivity rate got up to 30%. In Tennessee, it's about 6-7% right now.

It's dumbfounding researchers, and so is the resurgence of the flu.

"We don't exactly know why. We know that when the COVID mitigation measures were in full effect we saw a pretty dramatic decrease in influenza and that continued on throughout the pandemic. Early on in the fall we saw cases of the flu in-season, and then as Delta surged the mitigation measures increased and influenza transmission then essentially halted, and now we're seeing a rise again," Dr. Antoon said.

Dr. Antoon said the measures that protect against COVID-19 can help prevent RSV and influenza too.

"If you're around someone who has a cough or cold symptoms wear a mask or have them wear a mask. Washing hands, coughing into your elbow, washing surfaces — the simple measures that work for COVID-19 also work for all these other viruses," Dr. Antoon said.

There is no vaccine for RSV, but Vanderbilt is one of the hospitals doing trials for a vaccine for that respiratory illness.

Earlier this year, Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt also had to admit at least eight kids for acute hepatitis. Thankfully, those children recovered and none needed liver transplants.