The children’s emergency room in Winnipeg continues to grapple with an onslaught of young patients battling flu and RSV, but health-care officials are optimistic cases could plateau soon.
Doctor Elisabete Doyle, medical director and section head of pediatric medicine at Health Sciences Centre’s Children’s Hospital, said 27 more children came to the ER with RSV illness last week, some of which were admitted to the ICU.
Doyle said this surge caused a ‘limited number’ of surgeries to be paused.
“We’re cautiously optimistic that maybe we’re going to hit a plateau with RSV very soon,” Doyle told CTV Morning Live Winnipeg’s Rachel Lagacé in an interview Monday morning.
RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, causes infections of the lungs and respiratory tract.
Doyle said the virus can cause cold symptoms in adults but can cause bronchiolitis in kids two years old and younger, which affects the small airways of the lungs.
“It causes a lot of mucus. It causes inflammation in those airways,” Doyle explained.
Common symptoms include wheezing or very noisy breathing, which is associated with increased work of breathing. You may notice sucking in between your child’s ribs, their tummy muscles are engaged, their nostrils flare, and they could look paler than normal.
“Those would be concerning signs of more severe bronchiolitis,” she said. “Those would be signs for coming to the emergency room.”
She notes, however, many kids who have bronchiolitis won’t get to the point where they’re having difficulty breathing. For milder cases, Doyle recommends keeping the nose clear, be it by using a bulb suction device or saline. Taking your child into a steamy bathroom can also help with secretion.
The old standbys of increased food, fluids and rest will also help your child battle the bug.
Doyle also reminds everyone interacting or caring for the sick child to frequently wash their hands.
Doyle notes general public health measures can help avoid catching influenza or RSV altogether. These include not taking your young children to congregate settings, avoiding contact with sick kids, frequent hand washing and sanitizing high-touch surfaces.
She adds influenza can also cause severe bronchiolitis, so getting your flu shot can help prevent contracting it altogether.
“Vaccinating the older children and adults in the family can help prevent the younger children from getting bronchiolitis related to influenza, for example,” she said.
Doyle noted the province also has an RSV prophylaxis program given to kids who are high risk, including those born prematurely or who have an underlying health condition.