Omaha doctors report surge in sickness among kids

Doctors at Children’s Hospital are mainly treating kids with RSV, the flu, COVID, and other acute viruses and bacterial infections, like strep throat.
Doctor's offices are filling up in the metro. It's not uncommon for flu season.
Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 5:13 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - It’s not uncommon for sick visits to spike during flu season. But after a two-and-a-half-year hiatus from many viruses and common colds, experts say the surge is significantly hitting kids.

“I feel like almost every kiddo I see on a daily basis is impacted by some illness right now, whether it’s for their sick check or a wellness visit,” said Dr. Rachel Schlueter, an outpatient pediatrician for Children’s Hospital.

Doctors at Children’s Hospital are mainly treating kids with RSV, the flu, COVID, and other acute viruses and bacterial infections, like strep throat. These non-COVID sicknesses are bouncing back since the pandemic began, according to data from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

“We absolutely did see during the pandemic that when everybody was making and social distancing, particularly during the school months, that we had a really steep drop in hospital admission and acute visits for viral infections,” said Dr. Russell McCulloh, an in-patient pediatrician at Children’s Hospital.

”I would say that this is the first year since the start of the pandemic that we have seen prominent numbers in many of the season-appropriate infections,” said Schlueter.

“It is much closer to our normal seasonal expected increases in hospital admissions, although it definitely is higher than we have seen in prior years,” said McCulloh.

Young kids are already vulnerable to more severe sicknesses with respiratory viruses. But some young kids are facing these viruses for the first time, meaning their immunity isn’t as strong as it would’ve been pre-pandemic.

“So all of our one and two-year-old kiddos who have never experienced RSV or influenza may show more prominent symptoms or have symptoms for a little bit longer than what we typically would remember prior to the pandemic,” said Schlueter.

Doctors expect the peak for RSV and other viruses to hit in the coming weeks.

For now, they suggest taking those preventive measures, such as teaching kids as they grow up to not touch their eyes, nose, or mouth. They also remind patients of the importance of washing hands regularly.