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Doctor discusses increase in COVID-19, RSV cases in children

KVUE's Rob Evans spoke with Dr. Meena Iyer, the chief medical officer at Dell Children's Medical Center, about the growing concern.

AUSTIN, Texas — Across Texas, doctors are seeing more children infected with COVID-19. But they're also seeing more cases of the respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. 

KVUE's Rob Evans spoke with Dr. Meena Iyer, the chief medical officer at Dell Children's Medical Center, about this growing concern.

Rob Evans: Obviously, RSV and COVID-19 [are both] extremely contagious. But what are the differences and what are the symptoms we need, as parents, to watch out for our children?

Dr. Meena Iyer: "So, they both are viral infections and the presentation is somewhat similar. There are not many differences between the two viruses, especially in pediatric patients. So, both of the viruses can present with some cough, congestion, sneezing, fever, increased [unintelligible] breathing, not eating or drinking much. So any time a parent sees that a child is having these symptoms, we advise that they go to their local pediatrician or family practice doctor to have their child checked out."

RELATED: Austin Public Health releases pediatric COVID-19 hospitalization data as students head back to school

Evans: Initially, at least in the public's eye, a year ago, COVID we thought was more of a problem for the senior citizens, the older group. But now with this variant especially, that is simply not the case. What are the numbers now? What are you seeing when it comes to kids and COVID?

Iyer: "So compared to last year this time, the surge of the delta variant is seeing much more patients of the pediatric population with COVID. I would say I have around 10 to 14 patients with COVID in the hospital every day, and 30% of them are in the ICU."

Evans: With the numbers spiking like they are, school just started this week, what do we need to emphasize to our kids to make sure that when we drop them off at the bus stop or at school that they stay as safe as possible?

Iyer: "So we need to continue to encourage masking. The [American Academy of Pediatrics] recommends masking for patients greater than two years of age. Handwashing, social distancing and vaccinating everyone who's eligible for the COVID [vaccine] for the ages 12 and above."

Evans: And with flu season coming around the corner here, how concerned, if [at] all, are you about the health care system being overwhelmed with kids now especially?

Iyer: "It is concerning. And it's not just COVID. We are seeing a surge in a lot of other illnesses like RSV and students are having flu. So that's concerning for us. And so we want to continuously encourage our patients and their families to mask, wash their hands, maintain social distancing and get the vaccine so we can curb these illnesses."

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