Pediatricians across our area are seeing a spike in winter viruses

CLEARFIELD COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – Doctors across the region have noticed am increase in upper respiratory infections among youth, that typically aren’t around during this time of the year.

Pediatricians have noticed many cases of RSV and croup, as well as some ear infections. These viruses usually go around in winter months, but has left some wondering: why are we seeing these now?

Dr. Aswatappha, a pediatric physician with Pediatric Healthcare Associates in Altoona said almost every child that has been coming to see him in the past few weeks has shown some symptoms of the flu.

“Probably 10 times more cases than you would see, usually,” Dr. Aswatappha said. “Definitely a bigger spike. Normally, I would see a case here and there this time of the year. But we are seeing a lot more every day.”

He credits the spike to the easing of COVID restrictions. As kids head back outside again and interact with others, he believes that is what has led to the spread.

He added that the cases that he has seen recently are unusual to see during this time of the year, but he said he is not very concerned, as infections like these go around every year.

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However, Dr. Yin Yin Htun MD, a pediatrician at Penn Highlands Healthcare in DuBois believes, after seeing after a record low number of influenza cases and other winter viruses last winter, the recent spike in cases could lead to more cases when winter comes.

“We are expecting this year – some of our older infants and children might have a severe response to the RSV infection,”

Symptoms to watch out for include: cough, cold, and fever, which could develop into a raspy cough, and lead to difficulty breathing, which may lead to hospitalization. Dr. Htun offered some tips for parents to look out for if their kids experience symptoms.

“Nose flaring, and then their neck muscles are working hard. And then sucking in between the ribs. That means the child is having trouble breathing, so they need to call their provider,” Htun said.

Both pediatricians said for parents to make sure their kids wash hands with soap for 20 seconds, disinfect surfaces, and practice other safe social guidelines, and to call your pediatrician if these symptoms persist.

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