Round this time of yr, our pediatric workers will typically hear, “Winter is coming!” It strikes concern in all of us as we put together for the approaching onslaught of snotty noses, febrile youngsters, coughs and extra. Properly, this yr winter got here early, it got here swiftly and it got here with a ferocity that we haven’t seen in a while. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which has been unpredictable for the reason that COVID-19 pandemic started, confirmed up first this season — now stronger than ever. Influenza didn’t wait, coming proper on the tails of RSV, inflicting an early “twindemic.” In fact, we will’t overlook about COVID-19, which continues to be a participant on this sport and doesn’t wish to be forgotten (and shouldn’t be forgotten), resulting in worries of an evil “tripledemic” in pediatrics this fall and winter.
RSV just isn’t a brand new virus. It has been round for a very long time, however you’re little question listening to increasingly about it this yr for a number of causes. There are extra circumstances in the neighborhood this yr as we have now resumed many typical pre-COVID actions whereas additionally shedding our masks and social distancing practices. It seems the strategies we used to fight COVID-19 labored even higher on our typical seasonal respiratory viruses. It is usually theorized that group immunity has waned since RSV hasn’t been as predictable relating to seasonality or severity for the reason that onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We’ve got seen vital RSV spikes the final two summers, however the incidence this fall has pushed many youngsters’s hospitals to the brink. Whereas this severe virus could trigger a chilly in older youngsters and adults, it may be extreme in infants and younger youngsters. It could actually trigger respiratory misery and result in the necessity for vital respiratory assist. It’s a main reason for hospitalization and even loss of life in infants, nonetheless, attributable to waning immunity, we’re seeing extra extreme sickness even in sometimes low-risk populations.
When you may have RSV your respiratory tract produces copious quantities of mucus, which makes it tougher to breathe. It’s straightforward to see how a small toddler lower than 6 months of age and/or with
co-occurring respiratory or cardiac circumstances could have difficulties with this virus. Sadly, there isn’t any treatment to deal with RSV and antibiotics will not be useful towards it since it’s a virus. Supportive measures corresponding to suctioning, heat showers, humidifiers and fluids are the principle remedies to assist one recover from this virus. Some sufferers could go on to develop ear infections or pneumonia through the course of sickness or worse respiratory misery, which might imply hospital or intensive care admission. Even infants who do effectively could have a chronic cough, which regularly causes parental concern, however ultimately virtually all infants will recuperate with supportive care.
Fortuitously, it appears in some areas that RSV has spiked and could also be declining, though this may fluctuate by area. It might rear its ugly head once more at any time.
To not be outdone, influenza has additionally offered itself as a worthy challenger. Whereas it appears that evidently many areas of the nation have been hit arduous by the flu, Tennessee appears to be on the heart of the present surge. A number of counties have closed their faculties in makes an attempt to maintain youngsters wholesome and secure. It’s vital to do not forget that the flu can nonetheless trigger extreme sickness and even loss of life in youngsters. The flu could cause cough, fever, fatigue, muscle aches, complications, congestion and extra. Once more, most kids will do effectively, however sure teams, particularly these with underlying respiratory circumstances
corresponding to bronchial asthma, could also be at excessive danger. Usually, youngsters want supportive care, however we do have anti-viral choices that may cut back the signs and can be utilized in sure circumstances. As with RSV, some youngsters might have respiratory assist requiring hospital or ICU admission, and a few youngsters could develop different problems corresponding to pneumonia. It has been broadly reported that this flu season is the worst for the reason that 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic. A complete of 5 pediatric deaths because of the flu have been reported by the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) thus far this season. As we frequently stated with COVID-19, no baby ought to die from a preventable sickness, and we should always work to immunize youngsters and hold them secure and wholesome. Most kids who die from the flu are unvaccinated, however the flu vaccine could make the course much less extreme, limiting the necessity for hospitalization or different problems.
RSV, flu and COVID-19, oh my! It appears as if we’ve been picked up and put down in an unfamiliar world. However that is what pediatricians are seeing in our places of work and hospitals all throughout the nation. Fortuitously, we have now a yellow brick street of types on how one can navigate the state of affairs.
First, get your self and your baby vaccinated towards flu and COVID-19. It takes about two weeks after the flu shot in your physique to construct up immunity to get the total profit from the shot, so it’s greatest to get it as quickly as potential. Those that haven’t gotten their main collection of the COVID-19 vaccine ought to get it now and people who have ought to examine to see if they’re eligible for the brand new bivalent boosters now accessible.
Additionally, apply good hand hygiene, keep house when sick, cough or sneeze into your elbow and ensure your physique is getting sufficient sleep, satisfactory vitamin and bodily exercise.
As soon as once more, we will make it by this winter collectively. Whereas there’s no place like house, don’t let the quantity of sufferers hold you away out of your physician’s workplace or hospital if you happen to want it. You’ll be able to typically name your pediatrician first to see in case your baby might be safely cared for at house.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has requested for assist and assets, whereas noting that we’re nonetheless within the midst of a psychological well being emergency as effectively. Be affected person however be vigilant. We’ve got the instruments to battle. Let’s put them to make use of and hold our kids wholesome all through this battle.
Carlenda Smith, MD, FAAP is vp of the Tennessee Chapter of the American Academy Pediatrics.
Jason Yaun, MD, FAAP, is president of the Tennessee Chapter of the American Academy Pediatrics. Observe him on Twitter: @JasonYaunMD