WESTWOOD — Melissa Levine is a mother of three in Westwood battling all kinds of colds and viruses this year — especially now that her seven-month-old son, Aidan, has started daycare.
“As dual-career parents, socialization and childcare are key, we have to have childcare, so childcare made the most sense, but we knew there was a high risk,” Levine said.
She says Aidan was previously exposed to RSV and now has a double ear infection.
“Especially if you have a young child, this is a serious concern because RSV can fluctuate very quickly, you can have mild symptoms and suddenly have respiratory problems,” Levine said.
“We expect this year to be a very busy year for viruses,” said Dr. Mark Blumenthal, interim chair of pediatrics at Newton Wellesley Hospital.
RSV cases are on the rise in children, he said.
Boston Children’s Hospital began postponing elective surgeries earlier this month, warning of “huge wait times” for hospital beds with illnesses such as RSV.
“The seasonality of viruses has changed during the pandemic, so things like hand-foot-and-mouth in the summer, RSV in the winter, flu in the winter, and they’ve all changed recently,” Dr. Blumenthal said.
Dr. Blumenthal said RSV became more prevalent earlier this year, and he expects a spike in Covid-19 cases soon.
“People’s immune systems can take a break during Covid because everyone is wearing a mask and not going outside,” Dr Blumenthal said. “Now it’s kind of coming back with a little bit of a vengeance.”
If that’s not enough, there’s another virus you should be aware of this year as well.
“Every other year an enterovirus can cause this upward paralysis or weakness-type syndrome, and 2022 is one of those years that we’re looking forward to,” Dr. Blumenthal said.
Although enterovirus can be alarming in some cases, Dr. Blumenthal says those serious cases are rare.
“If we live our lives, you’re exposed, so I think part of it is just knowing that your child is going to get sick and it’s okay,” Dr. Blumenthal said.
Doctors say it can be difficult to know which virus your child has, since RSV, Covid and the flu all show similar symptoms, such as runny nose, cough or fever.
But some doctors say that sore throat can be the first symptom of covid-19.
“I don’t think knowing the virus will make a difference in what you do for your child at home,” Dr. Blumenthal said.
But sometimes a child needs to go to the hospital, so if your child has trouble breathing, shortness of breath, signs of dehydration or has a constant high fever, be careful, call their doctor.
A simple reminder that many parents may need after living through the pandemic for two and a half years.
Dr. Blumenthal said even though those vaccines aren’t perfect, children should get the flu and covid vaccine to protect against more severe symptoms.
There is currently no vaccine for RSV.
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