More young children in the ER after catching strains of flu at school

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — More and more young children are ending up at the emergency room after catching the different strains of flu that are currently going around.

Most of the spread is traced back to the start of the new school year. News10NBC talked to the medical director of pediatrics at Rochester Regional Health who says RSV is on the rise.

Doctors tell us while there has been a slight uptick in Covid in school-age kids, the biggest spike in illness is due to other respiratory illnesses, which got a very early start this year.

“We’re always prepared for younger infants and toddlers, and it seems to be pretty much spread through the school-aged children that we’re seeing nowadays,” said Dr. Colleen Markewicz.

She goes on to say flu season typically runs from November to March. Over the past few weeks, the emergency department has been treating more young patients.

“We have seen sicker children than in the past,” said Markewicz. “So patients that may require more oxygen support and require transfer to the intensive care unit, and they have been very receptive to taking those critically ill patients.”

Besides RSV, Markevicz says other strains like enterovirus and rhinovirus are also showing up in children. She goes on to say that RSV can get worse before it gets better.

“Day 1 and day 2 are way better in children typically than days 3 and 4,” said Markewicz. “So they may be seen in the emergency department or their primary care doctor on their first day.”

Doctors say COVID, which is still with us, isn’t much of a factor here.

“With the respiratory infections that we’re seeing, the kids that are making it to the ED because they’re having more trouble breathing, it really doesn’t seem to be COVID, but at this time it’s more RSV, enterovirus, and rhinovirus,” said Markewicz.

We asked Dr. Markevicz about the impact of the influx of younger patients on the hospital system.

“Not just locally, but nationally also, all the hospitals are functioning at or above capacity because of multiple reasons,” said Markewicz. “So I think what’s different now compared to other seasons is that more children are getting admitted and seem to have more respiratory distress with those viral illnesses so stressing an already stressed system.”

Doctors urge everyone not to delay getting vaccinated, especially as we start to spend more time indoors going into the holiday season.