The Winnipeg Children’s Hospital has seen a surge in respiratory infections in infants and is urging parents to be more diligent in protecting their newborns.
Watch for symptoms
To help prevent RSV infection, monitor cold-like symptoms carefully and contact your doctor if your child:
- Has a hard time breathing with wheezing.
- Has a frequent choking cough.
- Is fatigued and not playful.
- Is not feeding well and has fewer than 3 wet diapers per day.
- Looks off-colour (pale, dusky)
A high number of young children have been admitted to hospital with RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), the leading cause of bronchiolitis — an infection of the small airways in the lungs.
As a result, the children have needed specialized treatment, including wearing oxygen masks and even being put on a ventilator, according to the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA).
"These types of respiratory infections can be very serious. Babies less than 12 months old are most vulnerable to contracting bronchiolitis from respiratory infections and may require hospitalization," Dr. Cheryl Rockman-Greenberg, the medical director of the WRHA's child health program, stated in a news release.
Basic hygiene and common sense are the best methods of prevention for these infections, she said.
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"Keep babies away from public crowded areas like shopping malls and schools where there may be people with colds or other illnesses. Most importantly, remember to wash your hands frequently, especially after touch your face, the face of your child and after contact with any other person who is ill," Rockman-Greenberg said.
Bronchiolitis can occur all year round but is most common during the winter months.
The following numbers reflect the cases of RSV since August 2012, including a sudden increase that began in mid-December:
- 149 lab confirmed cases
- Nearly half of those were in babies aged one to six months
- 85 admissions to Children’s Hospital in December
- 29 admissions in November
- 12 admissions in less than 28 days
- 87 admissions were from outside Winnipeg
- 43 of the 149 cases were seen in Children’s Hospital emergency department, treated and released