- If your child develops a fever, cough, or congestion, consider getting your child tested not only for COVID-19 but for RSV infection as well.
- Younger toddlers and babies have a higher risk of experiencing respiratory distress from RSV.
- A dual infection with SARS-CoV-2 could potentially worsen the course of their illness.
There’ve been increasing reports of kids simultaneously developing respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection and COVID-19.
It’s not uncommon for kids to contract two respiratory viruses at once.
While most school-aged children will have no symptoms or mild cold-like symptoms, younger toddlers and babies have a higher risk of experiencing respiratory distress if they contract RSV.
A SARS-CoV-2 co-infection could potentially worsen the course of their illness.
Pediatricians recommend getting your child tested for both RSV and SARS-CoV-2 infections if they develop symptoms such as a fever, cough, or congestion.
The best way to protect kids from the co-infection is for adults to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Doing so reduces the number of opportunities the coronavirus has to transmit to new people and reach children who are not yet eligible for the vaccines.
According to Dr. Danelle Fisher, a pediatrician and chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, RSV is common amongst kids but not typically at this time of year.
RSV typically spreads between fall and spring, peaking between December and February.
Dr. Jennifer Lighter, a pediatrician and hospital epidemiologist at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone, says it’s not uncommon to see children have more than one respiratory virus at once.
“About 10 to 15 percent of children can have more than one respiratory pathogen detected at the same time,” Lighter told Healthline.
Fisher is concerned about the recent uptick in kids being diagnosed with both RSV infection and COVID-19.
“I am very worried about this issue, and we are working diligently to find out why these cases are on the rise and what we can do to slow this alarming trend,” Fisher said.
Younger kids, like toddlers and infants, who develop both infections may have a more severe illness than if they had only contracted one virus, according to Lighter.
Symptoms of RSV infection are similar to those of the common cold: fever, cough, and nasal congestion.
Many of the
“COVID has all of the symptoms but not specifically wheezing. COVID can also cause gastrointestinal symptoms, including vomiting and diarrhea, as well as rash,” Fisher said.
Many school-aged children have no symptoms or mild cold symptoms.
“They are often indistinguishable. The majority of children would have mild symptoms with either respiratory illness,” Lighter said.
If your child develops a fever, cough, or congestion, consider getting your child tested not only for COVID-19 but for RSV infection as well.
In babies and young toddlers, RSV can cause significant wheezing and respiratory distress that requires immediate medical attention, says Fisher.
A co-infection with SARS-CoV-2 could potentially worsen the course, according to Lighter.
In communities where both viruses are circulating, there’s a greater concern that young children will pick up both respiratory viruses, Lighter added.
Adults can better protect children by practicing physical distancing and wearing a mask in areas with high amount of viral spread. Most importantly adults, and any children over the age of 12, should get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect children too young to be eligible.
This is “what we call ‘cocoon care’ to protect the young children who cannot get vaccinated,” Lighter said.
If your child has a cold or symptoms of COVID-19 or RSV infection, isolate them from other children until their symptoms resolve.
Reports of kids developing both a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection and COVID-19 have increased in recent weeks in certain areas with high circulating RSV. Most school-aged children will likely develop no or mild cold symptoms, but younger toddlers and babies have a higher risk of experiencing respiratory distress from RSV.
A dual infection with SARS-CoV-2 could potentially worsen the course of their illness. Pediatricians recommend getting children tested for both if they develop symptoms, and encourage adults in your community to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to help shield them from the infection.