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Respiratory illness in children: nurses urged to check symptoms

Charity warns rise in infections could coincide with surge in COVID-19 infections

British Lung Foundation warns cases of respiratory syncytial virus ‘rife’ as it records a 400% increase in calls to its helpline from worried parents

Nurses are urged to look out for symptoms of a common respiratory illness in children amid concerns of a surge in cases.

The British Lung Foundation (BLF) has warned cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are ‘rife’ as it recorded a 400% increase in calls to its helpline from parents worried about their children having breathing difficulties.

BLF respiratory nurse Caroline Fredericks said: ‘Often, they don’t know whether they are dealing with asthma, COVID or a cold, and aren’t sure where to turn,’ she said.

British Lung Foundation warns cases of respiratory syncytial virus ‘rife’ as it records a 400% increase in calls to its helpline from worried parents

Nurses are urged to look out for symptoms of a common respiratory illness in children amid concerns of a surge in cases.
Picture: iStock

Nurses are urged to look out for symptoms of a common respiratory illness in children amid concerns of a surge in cases.

The British Lung Foundation (BLF) has warned cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are ‘rife’ as it recorded a 400% increase in calls to its helpline from parents worried about their children having breathing difficulties.

BLF respiratory nurse Caroline Fredericks said: ‘Often, they don’t know whether they are dealing with asthma, COVID or a cold, and aren’t sure where to turn,’ she said.

Around 1,000 children needed hospital care in England in past three months, says charity

The charity warned the rise in infections could coincide with surging numbers of COVID-19 infections and place extra strain on healthcare services.

RSV is responsible for 75-80% of all lower respiratory tract cases in young children and is the leading cause of hospital admission in the first year of life.

In the past three months an estimated 1,000 children have needed hospital care in England alone, according to the BLF.

The virus is usually responsible for 20,000 UK hospital admissions in under-ones every year. Cases of the condition often peak in January.

Part of the reason for the spike in cases is down to a lack of immunity in children who weren’t exposed to common winter viruses last year due to lockdown.

Lowered immunity in children

BLF clinical lead Dr Andy Whittamore said healthcare staff are concerned they are also going to see a surge in diseases like bronchiolitis, which can develop from RSV.

‘In general practice, we are seeing a lot of children with coughs and viruses that weren’t circulating last year and so their immunity is lowered,’ he said.

Common symptoms to look out for include a runny or blocked nose, which can progress to a cough, fever and sometimes breathing difficulties. A high temperature above 37.5 degrees is also common with RSV.


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