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Avera Medical Minute: Questions and Answers about RSV, COVID-19 symptoms in children

Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 12:13 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -As we enter cold and flu season, Doctors are prepared to screen and test patients for many illnesses. Medical Minute Beth Warden had a conversation with Avera Pediatrician Dr. Natalie Hutton in Pierre, to discuss COVID-19, RSV, and how to tell the difference between the two illnesses.

Q: It could be a little bit confusing now that we’re worried about the coronavirus. What is the difference between symptoms with RSV and COVID-19?

A: They both can cause cough and congestion and a low-grade fever. COVID is also associated with more of a longer array of symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, loss of taste, things of that sort. There is a vaccine for RSV called Synagis. It is only approved for very premature babies, so it is not used for term babies or other individuals.

Q: How will you be able to determine if a child comes in, if it’s COVID or if it’s RSV?

A: Great question. You cannot tell the difference. To know that, we would test. We could test to determine if it’s RSV versus COVID, or a non-COVID, upper respiratory infection.

Q: And if it turns out that a child is diagnosed with RSV what are the treatment options?

A: So we give Tylenol or Motrin for fever. Ensure patients drink lots of fluids, rest. If they have worsening respiratory symptoms then they come and see us and we would manage that with other things such as breathing treatments, oxygen if need be, with admission to the hospital, but that’s rare. That doesn’t happen often.

Q: Are there children diagnosed with COVID-19 that need to be hospitalized?

Children are being hospitalized for COVID but it’s extremely rare in comparison to adults. There’s eight out of 100,000 that are on average that are being hospitalized. So I guess I want to put that out there for parents to understand, to have caution but not be so scared that you wouldn’t go to the doctor to be seen.

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