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Explained: Kids Co-Infected With COVID & RSV Pose a New Challenge

Rising cases of children coinfected with COVID-19 and RSV in the US are driving up hospitalisations in kids.

Updated
Explained: Kids Co-Infected With COVID & RSV Pose a New Challenge
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As the cases of COVID-19 soar in the US, an outbreak of respiratory syncytial virus in children along with COVID has put health officials on edge.

The US CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) has expressed concerns over rising cases of RSV–a highly contagious viral infection–among children at the same time as COVID, further compromising their health.

Experts have also expressed concerns of this co-infection, considering such a thing was not seen in the prior waves.

What should you know about RSV and COVID?

FIT explains.

Explained: Kids Co-Infected With COVID & RSV Pose a New Challenge

  1. 1. What is RSV? What are its symptoms?

    First, let's break down what RSV is.

    According to WebMD, respiratory syncytial virus, is a common respiratory illness that typically affects small children.

    According to the US CDC, almost all children will have had an RSV infection by their second birthday.

    Although RSV is very contagious, it is usually harmless, and similar to a common cold.

    However, in some cases, it can lead to serious complications like pneumonia, and bronchitis

    Symptoms of RSV are also similar to that of a common cold–fever, cough, runny nose–that lasts for a week or 2.

    Expand
  2. 2. Who Is at a High Risk of Catching RSV?

    According to WebMD, the chance of a severe infection is highest for:

    • Babies born prematurely

    • Children younger than 2 who were born other comorbidities, like heart and lung issues.

    • Infants and young children whose immune systems are weakened because of illness or medical treatment

    • Children under 8 to 10 weeks old.

    However, in the last few weeks, the US has seen an influx of RSV cases in even older children, up to teenagers.

    Expand
  3. 3. COVID and RSV Co-infections: The Double Whammy

    According to data presented by the CDC, cases of RSV among children in the US have increased gradually yet steadily.

    <div class="paragraphs"><p>Cases of RSV in the US between 2020 and 2021.</p></div>

    Cases of RSV in the US between 2020 and 2021.

    (Source: cdc.gov)

    But it isn't just the spike in cases of RSV that has experts worried but thhe correspondence with the spike in cases of COVID-19 in the country.

    Moreover, many of these children are being co-infected with both COVID and RSV which makes them even sicker, taking a toll on their immune system. This has also lead to more children being hospitalised with COVID and RSV.

    Doctors have also pointed to how RSV is usually common during the winters and it is unusual for this spike to occur now.

    Third Wave and Children

    As the US grapples with another surge of COVID cases driven by the dangerous Delta variant, experts have been noticing that this time around it is affecting kids more severely.

    Dr Heather Haq, a pediatrician took to twitter to speak about this.

    “After many months of zero or few pediatric Covid cases, we are seeing infants, children and teens with Covid pouring back into the hospital, more and more each day,” she said.

    She goes on to say, "I worry that the Delta variant, in addition to being more contagious, *may* also be more virulent in children."

    Dr Haq warns of a 'surge upon surge' situation with cases of RSV simulatiously rising with COVID cases in kids.

    Rise in cases of RSV have also reportedly been noticed in New Zealand and the UK.

    Experts worry of what this could mean for the future of COVID management in children.

    One explanation is that COVID is leaving kids more vulnerable to other pathogens and infections.

    Expand
  4. 4. Treatment for RSV

    As of now, there is no treatment specifically for RSV. In mild to moderate cases, the infection usually resolves itself in a couple of weeks.

    According to the CDC, vaccines and antiviral treatments for RSV are in the pipelines.

    Sumptoms of RSV can be managed with over-the counter fever medication like paracetamol or ibuprofen.

    Drinking lots of water is also very important to avoid dehydration.

    If your child has RSV, it is important to discuss with a doctor about which medicines are suitable and safe for kids.

    If the child is infected with COVID simultaneously, however, it could get more complicated.

    Expand

What is RSV? What are its symptoms?

First, let's break down what RSV is.

According to WebMD, respiratory syncytial virus, is a common respiratory illness that typically affects small children.

According to the US CDC, almost all children will have had an RSV infection by their second birthday.

Although RSV is very contagious, it is usually harmless, and similar to a common cold.

However, in some cases, it can lead to serious complications like pneumonia, and bronchitis

Symptoms of RSV are also similar to that of a common cold–fever, cough, runny nose–that lasts for a week or 2.

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Who Is at a High Risk of Catching RSV?

According to WebMD, the chance of a severe infection is highest for:

  • Babies born prematurely

  • Children younger than 2 who were born other comorbidities, like heart and lung issues.

  • Infants and young children whose immune systems are weakened because of illness or medical treatment

  • Children under 8 to 10 weeks old.

However, in the last few weeks, the US has seen an influx of RSV cases in even older children, up to teenagers.

COVID and RSV Co-infections: The Double Whammy

According to data presented by the CDC, cases of RSV among children in the US have increased gradually yet steadily.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Cases of RSV in the US between 2020 and 2021.</p></div>

Cases of RSV in the US between 2020 and 2021.

(Source: cdc.gov)

But it isn't just the spike in cases of RSV that has experts worried but thhe correspondence with the spike in cases of COVID-19 in the country.

Moreover, many of these children are being co-infected with both COVID and RSV which makes them even sicker, taking a toll on their immune system. This has also lead to more children being hospitalised with COVID and RSV.

Doctors have also pointed to how RSV is usually common during the winters and it is unusual for this spike to occur now.

Third Wave and Children

As the US grapples with another surge of COVID cases driven by the dangerous Delta variant, experts have been noticing that this time around it is affecting kids more severely.

Dr Heather Haq, a pediatrician took to twitter to speak about this.

“After many months of zero or few pediatric Covid cases, we are seeing infants, children and teens with Covid pouring back into the hospital, more and more each day,” she said.

She goes on to say, "I worry that the Delta variant, in addition to being more contagious, *may* also be more virulent in children."

Dr Haq warns of a 'surge upon surge' situation with cases of RSV simulatiously rising with COVID cases in kids.

Rise in cases of RSV have also reportedly been noticed in New Zealand and the UK.

Experts worry of what this could mean for the future of COVID management in children.

One explanation is that COVID is leaving kids more vulnerable to other pathogens and infections.

ADVERTISEMENT

Treatment for RSV

As of now, there is no treatment specifically for RSV. In mild to moderate cases, the infection usually resolves itself in a couple of weeks.

According to the CDC, vaccines and antiviral treatments for RSV are in the pipelines.

Sumptoms of RSV can be managed with over-the counter fever medication like paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Drinking lots of water is also very important to avoid dehydration.

If your child has RSV, it is important to discuss with a doctor about which medicines are suitable and safe for kids.

If the child is infected with COVID simultaneously, however, it could get more complicated.

(Written with inputs from New York Times.)

(From 26 July to 30 August, FIT is #DecodingPain. Want answers to your painful woes? Send in your questions to fit@thequint.com, and we will get pain experts to answer them for you.)

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