RSV vs. COVID-19: 1 respiratory virus has been much more prevalent this winter

RSV and COVID-19 have been spreading this winter, but pediatricians have seen COVID-19 significantly outpace RSV in recent months.

Respiratory illnesses like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19 have been spreading this winter, but pediatricians have seen COVID-19 significantly outpace RSV in recent months.

In mid-February, pediatrician offices with Norton Children’s Medical Group, affiliated with UofL School of Medicine, reported 151 cases of COVID-19 and only four cases of RSV.

“RSV is typically worse during the winter months, and we aren’t seeing nearly the amount of cases we saw during the summer’s unusually early RSV outbreak,” said Sayeed U. Khan, D.O., pediatrician with Norton Children’s Medical Group – Fern Creek. “However, families need to remain vigilant when monitoring their child’s symptoms, as respiratory viruses are still spreading in our community.”

In August 2021, RSV diagnoses peaked at about 300 a week at Norton Children’s Hospital and Norton Children’s Medical Group pediatricians’ offices. The early spike of RSV started in May and continued through the fall. By October, COVID-19 was the more prevalent virus among pediatric patients. Providers saw a post-holiday surge of COVID-19 in mid-January, peaking at over 750 weekly cases while there were just eight reported cases of RSV.

Despite the winter spike of COVID-19, this year’s flu season also has remained relatively mild. Cases of influenza have been holding steady over the past month with an average of 20 reported cases per week across Norton Children’s Medical Group.

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RSV, COVID-19 and influenza are respiratory illnesses that are caused by different viruses but can have similar symptoms, including fever, cough, runny nose and wheezing.

“If your child is showing any symptoms, they should be kept home from school and day care to avoid spreading the virus to other children and adults,” Dr. Kahn said.

Norton Children’s Hospital has seen instances of double infections, where kids have been infected with RSV and COVID-19 at the same time. Children with dual infections may develop more severe symptoms than children infected with a single virus.

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Norton Children's Medical Group – Fern Creek

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Norton Children’s Medical Group, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, offers pediatric primary care at more than 20 locations throughout Louisville and Southern Indiana.
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