Expert offers advice amid rising cases of RSV and flu

Posted at 4:39 PM, Nov 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-15 09:41:14-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Hospitals across Western New York are reporting an 'unprecedented' number of kids with respiratory illnesses.

Oishei Children's Hospital took in about 200 patients per day last week for RSV alone. Kaleida Health is also reporting a significant rise in flu cases.

This surge in RSV and flu cases is a major concern for parents across the country and right here in Western New York.

"They love playing - they love, you know - but they were just like laying down, sad, not too much energy and I was like okay this is, you know, a concern," said Khadijah Hussein, a mother of two.

Her 11-month-old son and 3-year-old daughter both caught RSV which usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms.

"Still pretty hard to watch her not eat, still throwing up a lot," she said, "He wasn't doing very well. Had a lot of fevers. Coughing a lot of mucus up."

Thankfully, she said, they are recovering and doing better.

"I feel much better now. Baby still coughing a little bit but it’s much better than it was so definitely a relief especially for my daughter going back to school it’s a relief," Hussein said.

SEE MORE: 'Nothing could have prepared us': one families road to recovery after 3 out of 5 children got RSV

The growing concern, now has Dr. Stephen Turkovich, Chief Medical Officer with Oishei, on alert.

"Well I have to say over my last 20 years as a physician, I've never seen anything like this in terms of the severity of the number of kids that need hospitalization and ED care at the same time," he said.

But, Dr. Turkovich said there are ways to manage the illness at home before a trip to the hospital becomes necessary.

7 News' Kristen Mirand asked what parents should have on hand in their home to help kids going through either the flu or RSV.

"So there's a couple things you want to do to help your child through the illness number one, drink plenty of fluids. If they're not eating that's okay, just make sure that they're well hydrated," he answered, "And then fever reducing medications."

If you are unsure about whether to bring your child to the emergency room, here's what he said you need to look out for.

"If you look if they are breathing fast or if it looks like the ribs are getting sucked in or retracting and using those extra muscles to breathe, that's a sign that they might need additional support via oxygen," Dr. Turkovich said.

SEE ALSO: RSV cases and hospitalizations on the rise locally and across the country

As for preventing this, he said:

  • mask up
  • if you're sick, stay home
  • try to avoid large crowds
  • wash your hands
  • stay up to date with your vaccines

Dr. Turkovich said this is all essential to brace for the cold and flu season ahead.

"So, it does seem to be that the flu is much more severe this year for kids than in previous years, so get your flu shot ASAP," he said.