Michigan doctors see unseasonable increase in respiratory viruses among children

Local News

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan doctors are seeing an unseasonable increase in respiratory viruses among children.

Illnesses like respiratory syncytial virus are typically more common in winter months.

Dr. Greg Tiongson, the medical director of Bronson Children’s Hospital, says with families emerging from quarantine, they are seeing more cases out of season.

“Our typical peak time for RSV is kind of December to March. It’s not July,” Tiongson said.

COVID-19 safety protocols helped reduce cases of other respiratory viruses, according to Tiongson.

“Now that we’re more open due to less mask wearing, we’re doing less social distancing, some of those routine respiratory viruses that are normally in the community in the winter and the spring are having a chance to take a little bit of a foothold.” Tiongson said.

RSV is a virus most people can fight off on their own, but it can be especially dangerous for young children.

“For older kids and adults, we generally just have cold symptoms. Maybe a bit of a stuffy nose, maybe a mild cough, not necessarily fever. But little children, particularly those that are less than 6 months old, can have a harder time with RSV and these other viruses,” Tiongson said.

Tiongson says parents should monitor the symptoms and talk to the child’s doctor. Most kids do not need to be hospitalized and can recover at home. A PCR test can be used to detect RSV as well as other viruses like COVID-19.

“For the most part, we’re not seeing epidemic proportions of RSV and these other respiratory viruses. It really is just we’re seeing some now and really in the last eight months, we really haven’t seen much at all. So, it’s an unusual time of year to see it and we’re seeing a handful more than we would have seen say six, eight weeks ago,” Tiongson said.

Doctors say it is too early to say exactly what will happen with cases of respiratory viruses.

“We really don’t know what to expect exactly this summer. Never had a summer like this where we’ve seen these kind of respiratory viruses like this to this degree,” Tiongson said.

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