Flu, RSV Cases Decline, COVID-19 Cases Increase at Cook Children’s
As children return to school from the holiday break, there could be an increase in respiratory viruses and illnesses over the next two weeks and beyond, so it’s important to remain watchful and proactive.
By Eline Wiggins
As cases of the flu and RSV decline at Cook Children’s, we are experiencing an increase in positive cases of COVID-19. Families are encouraged to remain vigilant against respiratory illnesses and make sure their children have the latest COVID booster vaccines, especially as a new dominant subvariant appears to be more contagious.
From Dec. 25 to Dec. 31, Cook Children’s saw a COVID positivity rate of 9.2%, which has been increasing since November. From Jan. 1 to Jan. 7, the positivity rate increased to 11.2%.
As children return to school from the holiday break, there could be an increase in respiratory viruses and illnesses over the next two weeks and beyond, so it’s important to remain watchful and proactive. If your child is feeling sick, keep them at home from daycare or school and wear a face mask when in public to stop the spread.
Influenza A and B cases have declined since November. From Jan. 1 to Jan. 7, we had a positivity rate of 9.9% for Influenza A. This doesn’t mean that the flu season is over, it’s possible to see another increase in cases, so be sure to get vaccinated against the flu. The flu vaccine works to prevent you from catching the flu – or, reduce the severity if you do come down with the illness.
“It is very encouraging to see cases decline,” said Laura Romano, D.O., hospitalist at Cook Children’s. “However, this does not mean that RSV and flu season is over. There is a very likely possibility of a second peak occurring later this winter.”
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases are declining compared to high cases in October and November. We currently have a RSV positivity rate of 7%. There are limited treatments for RSV. Right now, there is no vaccine available to prevent RSV. Synagis, a monoclonal antibody, can be given to prevent severe infections but this is reserved for premature infants, etc. We are also seeing positive cases of rhinovirus and adenovirus in our patients.
The World Health Organization said that it’s concerned with how quickly the XBB.1.5 subvariant of COVID is spreading in the northeast U.S. The subvariant makes up 40% of submitted specimens to the national SARS-CoV-2 surveillance system. There's still a lot that is unknown about this subvariant.
“This subvariant may be able to slip past our immune defenses and might be more contagious, but it is not clear yet if it causes more severe disease or if the vaccine can effectively prevent severe infections from this strain,” said Mary Suzanne Whitworth, M.D., medical director of infectious diseases at Cook Children’s. “We do know that masking and good handwashing will still be helpful to avoid infection.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks the community spread of COVID-19. For the week of Jan. 1, Tarrant County is rated “high” transmission spread.
Prevention & Precautions
The biggest thing the community can do to help is to take precautions against COVID-19, including masking indoors if you or your child feel sick, frequent hand washing, and getting the COVID-19 vaccine and booster.
Get updated flu and COVID vaccines – these will help prevent infection and reduce the risk of hospitalization. You can call your pediatrician to schedule an appointment to receive vaccinations.
- Teach your children to cough or sneeze into their elbow.
- Use hand sanitizer.
- If you or your child is sick, wear a mask in public.
- If your child is sick, keep them home from daycare or school. Make sure your child drinks lots of liquids, gets plenty of sleep and takes over-the-counter meds to alleviate symptoms.
Flu vaccines help prevent infection and can prevent serious outcomes in people who are vaccinated but still get sick with the flu. The vaccines also reduce the risk of hospitalization.
There’s no guaranteed way to avoid the flu. But getting the vaccine every year can help. At Cook Children’s, we believe that flu vaccinations are the safest, easiest way to protect everyone age 6 months and older from serious flu symptoms. And a flu vaccination during pregnancy helps protect your newborn baby from flu for several months after birth.
Flu immunizations, COVID-19 immunizations and other services are available at Cook Children’s neighborhood clinics and primary care sites across Fort Worth and beyond. Find a location near you: Primary Care Offices/Neighborhood Clinics (cookchildrens.org)
For COVID, at-home tests and community testing locations are also great options.