The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services(NCDHHS) is reporting the first pediatric death from flu for the 2022-2023 flu season. The surge in illness in North Carolina is being caused by several different viruses, including rhinoviruses (responsible for most cold-like illnesses), enteroviruses, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza.
According to NCDHHS, North Carolina has seen a rapid early rise in flu cases in recent weeks after two years of relatively low flu activity since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Reports show increased levels of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) this year compared to the same time in recent previous years. These trends are similar to what is being seen nationally. Cases related to influenza, RSV and other respiratory viruses that may be circulating are regularly tracker by NCDHHS weekly and updated in the Respiratory Virus Surveillance Dashboard.
Though the flu and COVID-19 are more familiar, RSV is raising alarms recently. On Nov. 1, the New York Times reported that RSV – which poses a greater threat to pregnant women, immunocompromised people and elderly people – has filled up hospitals earlier than usual.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list a runny nose, a decreased appetite, fever, wheezing and a cough as RSV symptoms. “RSV can also cause more severe infections such as bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the small airways in the lung, and pneumonia, an infection of the lungs,” the CDC notes. “It is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than 1 year of age.” Take necessary precautions and consult your doctor if you or your kids belong to the risky groups!
As families plan to get together for the holidays, precautions should be taken by everyone to not spread the viruses. To protect your family from RSV and other respiratory illnesses, use the same precautions that we used to prevent the spread of COVID-19 such as social distancing and wearing a mask . This can help to reduce the spread of illnesses currently circulating in our community.
Health officials also suggest to get flu shots to your kids and COVID boosters, because both influenza and COVID cases are expected to rise as the weather cools. Since RSV doesn't have a vaccine, by being updated on flu and COVID vaccines, we can at least prevent serious illness in these cases.
As of today, most triangle hospitals are overloaded and getting appointments with primary care or urgent care physicians requires at least 2 hours of wait time(walk-ins). If you notice symptoms of cold and fever in your kids, please keep them home and provide them with necessary medical care. Schools are adivising kids to stay home if they are sick and only return back if they did not have fever for 24 hrs.