Houston doctors see rise in respiratory viruses in post-pandemic reopening

Tuesday, June 29, 2021
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These viruses can seriously affect infants and children, and since COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, it's becoming an even greater concern.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Cases of respiratory illness are on the rise. We're not talking about COVID-19, but rather other illnesses, such as RSV, a respiratory virus.

RSV can seriously affect infants and children, and since COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, there's been a spike in cases.

"Starting in March, we started to see an increase in all of the non-COVID viruses, respiratory viruses, like RSV, parainfluenza, some of the seasonal cold coronaviruses," said Dr. Wesley Long, the medical director of diagnostic microbiology at Houston Methodist.

SEE ALSO: The coming flu season may be severe. Here's why

RSV, in particular, can cause more severe symptoms in children and the elderly. Mild symptoms in children can include:

  • Runny nose
  • Decreased appetite
  • Cough

Pneumonia can be found in severe cases in both kids and the elderly.

"The speed with which these viruses came back since March, and the fact that they're so out of season from what they typically would be," said Dr. Long.

SEE ALSO: COVID-19 vaccine trials underway in Houston for children under age 2

Normally, we'd see a peak over the winter months, not in the summer. Remember, we're still dealing with COVID, so if you do get sick and you are not vaccinated, Long suggests you get tested.

"It's a little bit tough to tell the difference at first blush in between these other viruses and COVID. So if you do get sick, especially if you haven't been vaccinated, you definitely want to get a COVID test to make sure that it's not COVID-19," he said.

Dr. Sarah Hasan with DM Clinical said young children and adults over 60 can face the most severe illness.

Right now there's no vaccine for the illness but DM Clinical is working to change that, conducting trials for what they say would be the first ever RSV vaccine.

"It's a highly contagious illness that's spread by respiratory droplets," Hasan said. "So by protecting yourself, you are protecting those around you as well."

A trial for adults 60 and older is underway.

"We can't do it without the community. Not only is it beneficial to people over 60, but they are medical heroes," said Hasan.

If you're interested in participating in the trial, you can visit DM Clinical's website or you can call 832-617-5764. Doctors recommend anyone at any age call if you're interested just to have a conversation.

For more on the latest clinical trials and COVID-19 related stories, follow Marla Carter on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.