2 respiratory viruses target children, circulate in Indiana with identical symptoms

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The increased rate of infections among children of what’s called respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is puzzling pediatricians.

The virus typically appears in the winter months, but is now exploding. On top of that, coronavirus cases in children are the highest to date since the pandemic began.

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The double viral threat has health experts concerned, specifically because the symptoms of RSV are nearly identical to COVID-19. News 8 spoke with Dr. Kirsten Kloepfer, an immunologist at Riley Children’s Health, who explained what parents need to know should their child exhibit these symptoms.

“The symptoms are very similar,” Kloepfer said. “Runny nose, cough and congestion. Right now, we don’t know the difference. We recommend everyone get a COVID test so that they can rule out whether it’s RSV or the coronavirus.”

Kloepfer says if these symptoms persist for more than two days — especially with COVID-19 present — parents shouldn’t wait to get their child tested.

While she hasn’t personally seen a patient with a dual infection, it is possible, she says. Layering viruses, Kloepfer warns, would require more aggressive treatment and could result in hospitalization, so be sure to monitor children closely.


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