COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio health officials are encouraging parents and their children to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves from getting sick as respiratory illnesses continue to rise this year.
In a press briefing held on Tuesday, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said that he anticipated this season being busy for respiratory viruses.
However, this year is proving to be busier than expected. RSV cases among children are up and flu cases have also increased compared to last year.
Dr. Vanderhoff said that COVID-19 should still be top of mind for parents as variants of the coronavirus remain active heading to the colder months.
Every year, children’s hospitals experience slightly higher admissions for winter viral illnesses and each hospital prepares for it by increasing staffing. However, those hospitals are seeing a high level of cases at an earlier time than in previous years.
Dr. Rustin Morse, chief medical officer at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, didn’t specify the number of patients being admitted to the hospital for respiratory illnesses but says that patient volume has been higher than usual.
As Nationwide Children’s Hospital navigates through staffing issues and other challenges, Dr. Morse said surgeries are being safely postponed or canceled and emergency care rooms are being expanded to make sure doctors can attend to their patients.
In order to reduce the number of respiratory illness admissions in children’s hospitals, doctors suggest watching out for symptoms in babies and children early.
Parents should pay attention to their baby’s breathing and how they sleep. If the infant has a serious case of RSV, they will have a blueish face and lips.
For children, a sign of a possible RSV case includes a cold, coughing, congestion and fever.
If your child is sick, doctors advised parents to keep their children home to prevent spreading symptoms to others. If children need to go out in public, they should wear a mask to help mitigate the spread.
Doctors also say vaccines are a great tool to reduce the risk of getting the flu this year.
“It’s to help protect ourselves and our child and it will also help protect our health care system,” said Dr. Claudia Hoyen, director of infection control at University Hospitals and UH Rainbow and Children’s Hospital.