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Pediatrician: Young children at risk for RSV, the flu and COVID-19 this winter

Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 9:41 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Local pediatricians are not are not sure what to expect heading into the winter months. Infants and toddlers are more susceptible to a dangerous virus known as RSV, while there’s also the flu as normal and the coronavirus as well.

Dr. Meleah Morales at Jordan Valley Community Health said RSV is so common, most of us have probably had it at one point in our lives. For adults, though, she said, it’s more like the common cold. Young children can experience scary side effects that could be made worse if they’re dealing with other viruses at the same time.

“We are not sure what it’s going to look like when kids have infection with COVID-19 and with RSV or with flu," Morales said.

Dr. Morales said most adults can easily overcome RSV. For little kids, newborns to two-year-olds, it’s not so simple. She said their small airways can get blocked with mucus and cause complications.

“So they breathe hard and fast and sometimes they can’t keep up with that respiratory status for long and they end up needing help with deep suction or even oxygen supplementation," she said.

Morales said some children get dehydrated and need IV fluids. The scariest outcome, though, is when babies go into respiratory failure.

“When they work hard to breathe for so long, they don’t have the energy to keep breathing hard like that and they need to be intubated or have C-PAP or other positive pressure ventilation," she said.

This year, there is added worry when it comes to the possibility of coronavirus exposure.

“We assume those infections could be more severe if they’re affected by two diseases at one time but there’s a lot we still don’t know about COVID-19," Morales said.

She encourages everyone in the family to get a flu shot and said adults should get a T-DAP booster shot as well. She said parents should limit their babies' contact to the rest of the world, in public and at home.

“The ‘don’t kiss babies’ thing is real. I always tell parents and my family members, don’t kiss a baby on their face or their hands, anywhere they are likely to have those respiratory droplets become a danger to them," Morales said.

Dr. Morales said there is no way to know if the precautions we’re already taking to fight against COVID-19 will help limit the spread of the flu and RSV this year. She said it’s important to keep up those efforts- masking, hand washing, avoiding large crowds- to keep ourselves and the people around us healthy.

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