Kids Can Get COVID-19 and RSV at the Same Time

Kids Can Get COVID-19 and RSV at the Same Time

At the Texas children hospital, doctors are treating a dozen children infected with both Covid-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Several other children tested positive for both viruses but did not require hospitalization.

Similar news is coming from Dallas in the US, where a four-month-old child is fighting Covid-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) simultaneously.

RSV is a common respiratory pathogen, and almost all people get it at the age below 2 years.

Kids can get Covid-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) simultaneously. Doctors suggest that about 10 to 15% of children can be contracted with more than one respiratory virus simultaneously.

Both Covid-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) viruses affect the respiratory system. Many symptoms of Covid-19 and RSV are identical, e.g. fever, cough and cold. But there are some symptoms unique to both.

While RSV may cause a decrease in appetite and wheezing, Covid-19 can present with loss of taste and/ or smell, sore throat or diarrhoea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. These distinct symptoms help to differentiate between Covid-19 and respiratory syncytial virus infection in children.

Because most children present with mild respiratory symptoms that are common to both, it is difficult to diagnose at times.

RSV in kids

RSV is very common in young children and infants. RSV is very contagious. While most cases are mild, some kids with RSV can develop bronchitis. Bronchitis restricts airways leading to respiratory distress and a wheezing sound while breathing. This is also accompanied by a high fever. Kids with such symptoms need immediate medical attention.

More serious cases may have pneumonia, lung infection. In young children, RSV may result in refusal of feeds, dry nappies (due to dehydration) and crankiness. RSV can be serious in the below cases:

  • Premature babies
  • Infants aged 6 months or less, especially those aged below 30 days.
  • Children under 2 who already have a chronic disorder of heart or lungs
  • Children with a weak immune system
  • Children who have difficulty in swallowing

Presence of Both Covid-19 And RSV in Kids:

The presence of both Covid-19 and RSV in kids will have a mix of symptoms. It should be confirmed with a test for both. Doctors suggest getting the child tested for both Covid-19 and respiratory syncytial virus if they have symptoms of cough, congestion and fever. SARS-CoV-2 co-infection can worsen and need treatment in intensive care units for some children.

The unseasonal surge in RSV cases:

While usually, RSV spreads during winter, this year, most countries have reported a spike in cases of RSV in summer. This unseasonal surge is being attributed to strict Covid control measures. The restrictions imposed for preventing the spread of Covid-19 controlled other respiratory viruses too. Now, with most countries lifting the restrictions, other respiratory viruses are spreading again.

RSV and Covid-19 Delta variant

The Delta variant of Covid-19 is more than twice as contagious as the previous variants studies so far. The American Academy of Paediatrics reported 121,427 child COVID-19 cases 7 days between 8/5/21-8/12/21.

Delta variant in children presents with symptoms like runny nose, sore throat, headache and fever. However, cough and loss of smell are less commonly found.

The symptoms of the Delta variant are thus obscure and more difficult to differentiate from RSV. Doctors are getting most children tested for both in case of serious symptoms.

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