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Local pediatricians see increase in RSV cases during 'off-season'

Doctors said the COVID-19 pandemic pushed respiratory syncytial virus cases, which are normally seen during cough and cold season in the winter, later in the year.

AUSTIN, Texas — Local doctors have seen a significant increase in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases in recent weeks, which is not typical for this time of year.

According to St. David’s Children’s Hospital, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed cases, which are normally seen during cough and cold season in the winter, later in the year.

Medical Director of the Pediatric Emergency Department at St. David’s Children’s Hospital Dr. Sadie Wyrick said viruses typically seen in winter are circulating this summer as people relax social distancing and stop wearing masks.

“Day cares and workplaces are relaxing on their restrictions as far as when kids can come back and things like that, and so all of these viruses are just spreading like wildfire,” said Dr. Wyrick.

She said doctors did not see cases of the virus this past winter because of precautions people were taking for COVID-19.

“One thing that I'm concerned about is we're not seeing very much flu right now,” she said. “And so I do think that we are going to start seeing a whole lot of flu over the winter and later into the fall, which just makes it that much more important to get your flu vaccine this year.”

Parents are asked to wash hands frequently and encourage children to wash their hands, as well as make sure if their child is sick not to take them to a public place where they are exposed to other children.

“Being sick doesn't just mean having a fever,” said Dr. Wyrick. “It can be just a runny nose and a cough that a lot of people are attributing to allergies. It can really be these viruses in the skies that are spreading to other kids and the more vulnerable population.”

RSV can cause respiratory issues such as cough and runny nose. Babies and young children are particularly vulnerable because their airways are smaller and more easily affected by inflammation.

Seek urgent care if your little one is younger than 3 months old and has a fever, is struggling to breathe or is breathing more than 60 times a minute.

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