A top doctor at a Texas children’s hospital said they are treating dozens of kids who were admitted for both respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19, and that many others have tested positive for both viruses but did not require hospitalization.
"The combination, we don’t have enough data to find out if it’s much worse than having one or the other, but you’ve got two potentially fatal diseases attacking the same child so we take that very, very seriously," Dr. Lara Shekerdemian, chief of critical care at Texas Children’s Hospital, told KHOU.com.
Updated data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed Monday that there are about 1,900 children in the U.S. hospitalized with COVID-19. Texas has one of the highest number of pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 170 confirmed cases. Florida leads with 199, and California has 107.
Shekerdemian said they have about 30 patients with both viruses.
In another hospital, a 4-month-old boy is in the ICU as he faces both viruses, Fox 4 News reported. Hudson Hooten’s mother told the news outlet that he is recovering at Children’s Medical Center Dallas with the aid of oxygen and fluids.
"The combination of RSV and COVID together has certainly proven to be very, very challenging, especially that’s where we’ll see our younger kids who get COVID has trouble is when they have both," Dr. Seth Kaplan, president of Texas Pediatric Society, told the news outlet.
Earlier this summer the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had warned that there was unusual increasing amount of RSV cases being reported. The illness, typically seen in the fall and winter months, can be associated with severe disease in young children and older adults, but nearly all children are expected to have had an RSV infection by their second birthday.
However, due to lower than expected numbers reported last year, likely due to many preventative COVID-19 measures that had been put in place, the agency warned that older infants and toddlers may be at an increased risk of severe illness.
Many symptoms of both COVID-19 and RSV overlap, such as cough, fatigue and fever. However, there are several symptoms that are unique to each, for instance, RSV may cause a decreased appetite, whereas COVID-19 may result in loss of taste or sense of smell, sore throat or diarrhea.
Kaplan, who is not involved in the care of Hooten, said that he and others are "worried" about what may happen when flu season arrives.
"The most important thing for kids under age 12 is going to be to wear that mask," he told Fox 4 News. "If you are eligible to get vaccinated, please get vaccinated."