Local pediatrician: Viruses among kids sprouting earlier than in years past

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The 2022 flu season is barely three weeks old, and pediatricians across the country say they’re seeing more young children being admitted to the hospital for serious respiratory illnesses.

News10NBC talked to one local pediatrician who says these viruses are sprouting earlier than in years past.

Adults are not the only ones getting the flu these days. Doctors say since school started, young children have been more susceptible to both the flu and COVID.

“It’s been chunky lately, but I’m getting by,” said Caleb North as he described his cough. He’s been home from school all week, too sick to attend. Thursday morning his mother Sarah took him to see his pediatrician.

“I’ve had this bad cough since Saturday, and we’re trying to see what’s going on,” said the younger North. “I had a PCR test yesterday. So we’re just trying to know what we’re going to do.”

Mom is taking a preventative step.

“I’m just concerned that my kids are going to get it and then pass it on to other kids at school and just miss a lot of school,” said North. “So we just want to make sure that they’re OK and not spreading diseases to other people.”

Dr. Edward Lewis says since school started, the number of children getting COVID has increased a bit, but nothing like kids coming in with croup, “which is parainfluenza, gives you a barky cough,” said Lewis. “Sounds like a seal, and we’re seeing run-of-the-mill viruses like enterovirus [and] rhinovirus that cause common colds.”

Now that masks are off, Dr. Lewis says young children are catching the viruses because they are in close contact with other infected children.

“We’re seeing a lot more illness that we have in the past 30 months, not because kids are being sent home for COVID testing but because kids are coming in with COVID symptoms,” said Lewis.

New York State has recorded over 600 positive flu cases already this year. Last year the state tallied 4,900 cases. Dr. Lewis says the number of young patients coming in has had a big impact on his office.

“We’re stretched pretty thin with giving vaccines,” said Lewis. “We’re trying our best between flu vaccines, routine visits, illness, COVID vaccines for the under 5-year-olds, boosters for those over 12-years-old. My staff is ragged.”