Major peak in children with respiratory virus at Limerick hospital

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Dr Barry Linnane, Paediatric Respiratory Consultant at UHL.

A PAEDIATRIC specialist at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) has warned that the number of children being infected with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) this winter is already well above average and is becoming a “major peak”.

Dr Barry Linnane said the number of cases of the respiratory syncytial virus has “really kicked off” since September and that people with children under six months old should try to avoid their baby having contact with anyone who has symptoms of the virus.

There were 648 cases of RSV in the second week of November and 282 hospitalisations as a result of the virus.

Dr Linnane, who is a Paediatric Respiratory Consultant, told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that children who are sick shouldn’t mix with others.

“Children under six months, particularly under three months, we really don’t want them interacting with somebody who has the symptoms.

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“Around 60 per cent of babies contract RSV in their first winter, such is the contagious nature of the virus, and one per cent will end up in hospital due to RSV,” he said.

“We are already seeing a lot of activity coming here in UHL in our paediatric emergency department. As of September, we had a 30 per cent increase in activity compared to last year, and that was already 20 or 30 per cent up from the year before.

“Certainly the data is there that it really is a major peak this year,” Dr  Linnane added.

Symptoms of RSV are very similar to those of a common cold – with a runny nose, coughing, sneezing common features but for some sufferers, difficulty breathing and a fever are symptoms.

The health service has already started to see the impact of the number of cases of RSV being detected and with case of winter flu also on the rise, the concern is that if Covid-19 cases also increase, there will be even more strain on overstretched hospitals.