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Respiratory Virus Update

Hello NAP Families,

It has been a while since we sent an update around – boy have we been busy! You have likely heard on the news that the virus RSV is peaking early this year, flu is starting to creep in, and Covid continues to circulate. We wanted to share some information, resources, and reminders to help us all get through this season safely.

First, there has been a lot of media coverage about RSV and, understandably, a lot of anxiety from parents of young children about this illness. RSV stands for Respiratory Syncytial Virus, a virus that circulates every year and causes symptoms of the common cold in most children and adults. It is a greater concern for very young children, primarily under 1, who can have difficulty breathing and may need hospitalization for supportive care as they fight off the virus. This is because little babies have little lungs, and RSV targets the small lung tubes more than other viruses. When baby lung tubes get inflamed and full of mucous from the virus, they get even smaller, and it can feel like trying to breathing through a tiny straw (think coffee stirrer). Babies with RSV who are struggling to breathe show signs of breathing hard and fast, the belly moving in and out with each breath, skin sucking in under, around, or above the rib cage, and/or “grunting” with each breath. If you see any of these symptoms please contact our office right away. Please note: if your child is older than 1 and has symptoms of a common cold, they do not need to be tested for RSV because just knowing the name of the virus will not change the way we manage them. With very few exceptions, we will decline testing in older healthy children so we can reserve these testing supplies for the infants who need them.

In addition to RSV, we are starting to see Influenza B infections rising in the community. Flu symptoms typically include fever, cough, congestion/runny nose, headache, sore throat, body aches, and malaise (feeling crummy). We can do flu testing in the office similar to our rapid PCR Covid tests to get results in real time. Some children who have high risk conditions (age < 2 years, asthma, other chronic medical problems) may be offered the medication Tamiflu to help shorten the course of the flu and make the symptoms less severe. It is the most effective if started within 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms. For all children, the flu shot is the best way to help prevent the flu completely or make the symptoms significantly less miserable – most children who are hospitalized with the flu are unvaccinated.

Of course, we can’t forget our dear friend Covid. No major updates here, just that we are still seeing circulating infection and still offering Covid parking lot swabs for kids with mild symptoms who do not need to be evaluated by a provider in the office. Please consider using this service instead of an in-office appointment when possible so the appointments can remain open for children with more concerning symptoms of illness. The parking lot Covid swabs are run in house and results are available in approximately 30 minutes.

And now a BIG favor we need to ask: because our appointment slots are in such demand right now, PLEASE use the MyChart portal or call our office to cancel an appointment if you no longer need to be seen!! This goes for sick and well visits (physicals). We have seen an uptick in no-shows, possibly because families choose to seek care elsewhere if they are unable to be seen at NAP the same day or because kid’s get sick and cannot come for their annual checkups. The problem is this appointment slot stays booked for this child and prevents another child from getting the care they need. We are going to start tracking these no-show visits and contacting families if a larger issue is noted. Even giving us an hour’s notice would let us fill the slot with another kiddo!

We hope everyone had a fun and safe end of October! Thank you to all of you for your patience and words of gratitude when speaking with our office – it has been very appreciated!

Northampton Area Pediatrics