Triangle doctors seeing children ill with viruses that are more active in fall or winter

Orange County News

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — If you have children, you know the fall and winter months are often filled with runny noses and coughing, but pediatricians say right now they’re seeing a lot of children sick with those viruses we usually don’t have to worry about at this time of year.

“This summer, we’ve seen RSV and another virus called parainfluenza. Both of those are having a spike at our hospital right now,” explained Dr. Michael Steiner, the pediatrician in chief at UNC Children’s. “We think this is, in part, related to the fact that through the winter season people were socially distancing, and spacing, and wearing masks, and the viruses didn’t have their usual time where they peak.”

Now that children are spending more time together, the viruses have a chance to spread, but with COVID-19 also back on the rise in our state, how can parents tell the difference?

Steiner says, often, they can’t.

“It can be very hard to tell the difference between COVID and other respiratory viruses, and really the only way to know is to test,” he explained.

Whether it’s COVID-19 or another virus, Steiner says similar methods can stop the spread: handwashing, keeping sick children away from others, and masks.

“Certainly, masks prevent other respiratory viruses, too but at least up until now we haven’t tended to wear masks when people have colds in our country, but we will see in the coming years if that becomes something that’s more common,” Steiner said.

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