A new study reveals that young infants with Covid-19 and other respiratory virus may be sicker. According to recent research, children under five who test positive for Covid-19 and other respiratory viruses have a higher risk of being very ill.
Pediatrics published a study on Wednesday showing that among hospitalized children younger than 5, the risk of severe respiratory disease was about doubled for those who tested positive for both Covid-19 and another respiratory virus simultaneously.
This research was conducted when respiratory viruses like RSV, influenza, Covid-19, and others flooded children’s hospitals. Researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and various universities and health departments in the United States wrote that their findings show the impact respiratory viruses have on pediatric hospitals and how “continued surveillance” of circulating Covid-19 and other illnesses can help predict future surges in hospitalizations.
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Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Jenevieve Silva had direct experience caring for small children with overlapping respiratory infections.
As she put it, “our household just could not catch a break” from the beginning of September until about the middle of November due to the prevalence of illnesses at that time.
The mother of eight from San Jose, California, stated that her twin baby boys “had been hammered by viruses” since they started preschool in May of 2021.
Silva’s twins tested positive for Covid-19 in October of last year, and they also had symptoms consistent with a respiratory viral infection, likely respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
According to Silva, the boys’ symptoms included a high temperature (105 degrees Fahrenheit for four days), shortness of breath, coughing, exhaustion, and fever. The pediatrician “strongly believe[d] that they had these overlapping infections,” Silva stated.
Silva said it was “awful” to watch her boys suffer from respiratory ailments, even though she had reduced their discomfort by giving them warm baths and massaging Vicks VapoRub into their backs and chests.
She explained that their apparent weakness and illness suggested something more severe than a string of diseases had been going about. It was the worst. What I mean is it was terrible.
I know I’m not the only mother whose child keeps getting sick.
The boys are “doing fine” now and have put on healthy weight, according to Silva, but she is concerned that they may have developed asthma due to their illnesses.
The doctor now thinks that the infections they caught in October may have triggered their asthma first. Since then, Silva explains, “they develop asthma symptoms whenever they catch a cold, including intense bouts of coughing and, in some cases, nausea and vomiting.
She expressed her solidarity with other parents by saying, “I can’t be the only mom struggling with the virus after virus,” before offering some words of encouragement: “Be patient. In other words, pay attention to what the doctor says.
The current research incorporated information from 4,372 kids who were hospitalized for Covid-19. Twenty-one percent of individuals who had tests for other respiratory viruses also had a codetection, meaning that those tests also revealed the presence of another respiratory virus. COVID-NET, a hospitalization surveillance network run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provided data from 14 states.
The researchers stressed that they were more concerned with codetection than coinfection, as a positive test result does not always indicate that a child is actively infected with both viruses.
During the first year of the pandemic, “our investigation found that respiratory virus codetections were rare,” the authors said. “During the Delta-predominant period, however, codetections of RSV and rhinovirus or enterovirus rose,” they added.
Codedetected youngsters were also more likely to be younger than 5, to require higher oxygen assistance, and to be admitted to the intensive care unit, the research found. Among kids over the age of 5, there were no discernible correlations.
Covid-19 infection was strongly related to severe sickness in children less than two who tested positive for respiratory syncytial virus or RSV.
Dr. William Schaffner, professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, who was not involved in the new study, said more research is needed to determine the precise impact that two respiratory viruses can have on the body at the same time.
“But we do think that being attacked by two viruses, especially if you are less than five years old, has been demonstrated by this study,” Schaffner said. “It does tend to make your illness more severe, more likely to be prolonged in the hospital, more likely to be in the pediatric intensive care unit.” Some young children may get more severely ill because their lungs, throat, and body — in general, their immune system — are being assaulted by two viruses at once.
The pandemic highlighted the ease with which these diseases can spread.
Associate professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Dr. Asuncion Mejias, said that children hospitalized with Covid-19 and codetections of other respiratory viruses often require additional oxygen support and treatment in the critical care unit.
Mejias explained that because “Covid is a very proinflammatory virus,” it significantly suppresses the body’s defense system. If you haven’t fully recovered from your initial infection with RSV or rhinovirus, and you catch it again, the second time will be worse.
Schaffner said that the current study results highlight the continued need to ensure that children are fully vaccinated against the flu and Covid-19.
Mejias concurred, stressing the need for safety procedures to limit the spread of infectious diseases among youngsters too young to get vaccinations.
According to Mejias, “the pandemic taught us how contagious these viruses are” about respiratory diseases.
Avoid close contact with sick people, she advised. In addition to oral secretions, such as saliva, hands can also be a vector for spreading these viruses. For 30 minutes, you can hold on to it without it dying. So, the baby can self-inoculate with the virus if you contact your lips and then the baby. Therefore, taking precautions such as washing one’s hands is crucial.