Officials at Wake Forest Baptist Health are sounding alarms about an unusual spike in respiratory illnesses among children.

Viruses like Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, and Croup are typically most common in the fall and winter. But Dr. Kimberly Montez, with Brenner Children's Hospital, says cases are spiking now, partly due to the easing of COVID-19 related safety restrictions.

“Now in addition, infants and younger children who were not exposed to these respiratory viruses in 2020, did not have that immunity built up to those viruses," said Montez. "And so now they are being exposed to them for the first time and contracting those infections.”

RSV cases dropped dramatically in April of 2020 and remained low through the year, according to an advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency began seeing a wave of cases across the South in March of 2021.

Montez advises parents to take their children to a doctor if they suspect they're sick and to watch out for severe symptoms of the virus, like fast breathing and wheezing – those may warrant a trip to the emergency room.

And, she says parents should still make sure their kids are wearing masks and washing their hands frequently – measures that should help protect them from both COVID-19 and RSV. 

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