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Pediatricians say the country is bouncing back — and so are childhood illnesses

Childhood illness
Posted at 7:59 AM, May 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 07:59:45-04

There's a resurgence of illnesses as the U.S. gets back to some normalcy.

For anyone with a sick kid at home, pediatricians say it's just the beginning of what's shaping up to be an odd year for non-COVID-19 illnesses.

“We are seeing everything again," said Dr. Tanya Altmann, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics and a Los Angeles-area pediatrician. "It's the spring viruses and the winter illnesses all combined.”

It's a weird time of year for it, but they're here: Stomach bugs, colds, strep throat and ear infections.

“Most years we see (it) around October and November," Altmann said. "But because of all the amazing COVID precautions that everyone’s been doing — staying home when you’re told to, washing your hands, disinfecting, wearing masks — kids weren’t out and about as much this winter to spread germs and illnesses.”

A lot of the bugs, she says, start on the east coast and migrate their way west.

“RSV — respiratory syncytial virus — which we usually see every winter, causes horrible runny, goopy bad cold in older kids and adults," Altmann said. "In babies, it can cause trouble breathing and put them in the hospital. We see that all across the east coast and Midwest.”

It is interesting, she says, that the U.S. is seeing those illnesses now.

While it's never good to see a sick kid, it is part of the natural human immune system development.

“My feeling is that in some ways, these are easier for kids to catch than COVID, which we know you catch when you’re sharing the same airspace," Altmann said. "But if kids are distanced and wearing masks, how are they catching these? From touching all the same things.”

This means, she says, kids and adults need to continue hand-washing and disinfecting, and should stay home if they're sick.

She admits that parents have to investigate those illnesses, especially when it seems that everything is a "COVID symptom."

“It is something that can be hard to decipher and pick out when kids are in school, right? Is it COVID? Is it not?" Altmann said. "If it's not, do you still want them back in school? I would say no, you don’t want a classroom of coughing, sneezing kids even if you know it’s not COVID.”

Testing is critical, and there are tests for all sorts of things, so parents can know what measures to take and when to send their kids back to school or the soccer field.