JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Delta Variant of COVID-19 is not the only virus putting the children of the Tri-Cities at risk.
Health officials say they are seeing a surge in RSV cases in the region.
Ballad Health reports they diagnosed more than 70 cases of RSV in infants and young children in the past 10 days, and many of them are hospitalized.
“So we don’t really know why,” said Dr. Patricia Chamber, Cheif Medical Officer at Niswonger Children’s Hospital. “Usually, we see a spike in RSV or respiratory syncytial virus in the winter months. For some reason, across the United States, it has decided to come early. And as such, we’re seeing a ton of respiratory illness in infants and small children.”
Dr. Chambers says children spending a year social distancing to protect against COVID-19 has left their immune systems vulnerable.
“We did spend a year, socially distancing and masking, doing really good hand hygiene,” said Dr. Chambers. “And then whenever we took off the masks and came out in public, it was a very good opportunity for infectious diseases to spread on the infants and young children.”
Dr. Chambers says there are things parents can do to protect their kids against RSV.
“Number one thing when you have an infant or a small child is trying to keep them away from germs,” Dr. Chambers said. “Second is good hand hygiene. Washing your hands before you feed your baby, washing off your baby’s pacifiers, washing off any surfaces that you know your baby’s going to touch. Masking and social distancing don’t just help with COVID.”