SAN MARCOS, Calif. (KGTV) - Local pediatric wards are starting to fill up with respiratory infections other than COVID-19.
“This is a concerning trend,” said Dr. Saloni Rao, pediatrician at Kaiser San Marcos, says her hospital and ICU beds are filling up with children battling non-COVID respiratory illnesses, including rhinovirus, enterovirus and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
In most cases, they lead to the common cold, but this summer, it’s been a different story.
“With the pandemic and the restrictions last winter, kids weren’t getting these common illnesses and building this low-lying immunity … Children are just getting sicker this season,” said Dr. Rao.
In the past month, the positive test rate for those illnesses at Kaiser Permanente hospitals has climbed to 30% in children, up from 10% in June.
Those latest positivity rates are up 60% to 80% from last September.
Dr. Rao says while there has also been an increase in non-COVID infections among adults, she calls the surge among children, significant, with the youngest being the most vulnerable.
"Infants and toddlers, in particular, are having more severe illnesses,” said Dr. Rao.
She says that's led to a shortage of pediatric beds. She worries about what the winter could bring.
“We're starting to see some influenza cases pop up. So over the coming months — as influenza cases rise — imagine what will happen. We’re bound to overrun doctors offices and ERs,” said Dr. Rao.
Dr. Rao has a message to parents: make your flu shot appointments and continue to take precautions.
“Handwashing, hygiene, covering coughs and sneezes, and masking … Take all available measures to protect yourself,” said Dr. Rao.