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Hospitals See Uptick In Child Viruses

BEND, OR -- Oregon hospitals are making space for more pediatric patients as severe respiratory illnesses make an early surge.

 “Because of the last couple of years, where everybody was doing social distancing and wearing masks, a lot of the little kids weren’t getting exposed to their older siblings’ illnesses at school or otherwise, and so now we have a larger population of children who haven’t seen these viruses for a few years,” Dr. Suzanne Mendez, at St. Charles Bend, says R-S-V can be especially dangerous to young infants and preemies, “Just being cautious with the youngest babies, as far as taking them out and about in big crowds, or if the older sibling is sick then trying to limit exposure to the younger babies; especially the babies that are the first few months of age, [they] just tend to have more severe RSV every year.”

The illness typically doesn’t hit the west coast until January or February. The Oregon Health Authority already reports a 12% positivity rate, statewide. And Enterovirus usually strikes every two years, but didn’t in 2020 because of COVID precautions. It’s about three weeks ahead of schedule. 

Mendez suggests parents be pro-active if their child gets sick, especially kids under two. “Often, they can’t blow their nose and so they get really stuffy and then they can’t eat because they’re so stuffy, and they can’t drink and then they get dehydrated and that just makes them more stuffy because the mucus gets thicker. So, keeping their nose suctioned out is what we recommend and keeping kids hydrated, and that’ll often help kids get through the worst parts of the virus if they do get it,” she says while noting St. Charles has already sent twice as many kids to Portland - the closest pediatric ICU - compared to the last three years at this time.

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