As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, doctors in several U.S. states are concerned about another version of COVID-19 that could soon infect thousands of children across the country. Recent reports from doctors in Texas and several other areas indicate that there has been an uptick in children hospitalized with a combination of COVID-19 and RSV, a respiratory virus that primarily results in cold-like symptoms. However, children that endure the virus tend to also deal with pneumonia and bronchiolitis. As a result, the virus tends to hit the body much harder than it does in other forms. For example, the Texas Children's Hospital reports that more than 50% of its adolescent COVID-19 patients have also tested positive for RSV.
"[COVID-19 combined with RSV leads to] a hospitalization rate much higher than for either virus alone," the health officials told the Texas Tribune.
RSV is not a new virus by any means, but it is surging much earlier than it typically does. The CDC reports that RSV infections among children typically arrive in the late fall, winter and early spring, not summer. In addition, RSV infections did not even peak at this time last year as the pandemic forged forward.
"But last year, during all of the COVID-19 outbreaks and all of our social restriction measures, we did not see RSV the way we normally see it," Dr. Pia Pannaraj of the Children's Hospital in Los Angeles explained.
"This is definitely earlier than normal."
Pannaraj is warning parents of young children between the ages of 1 year old and 2 years old to be vigilant regarding coughs, lack of appetite and excessive sleeping. She also explained that RSV infections have primarily been going up in areas without mask mandates and social distancing is not common.
"[Parents and physicians] need to look out for both of those infections," she added.
Surges in RSV infections come amid a spike in children being hospitalized for COVID-19. Over the weekend, more than 1,800 children were hospitalized due to COVID-19, a record during the pandemic.