Getting Answers: Weeks into Flu/RSV Season, Cook Children’s Medical Center Has Seen Zero Cases
This year has been especially difficult, but in the midst of the pandemic, there’s one silver lining.
As of Dec. 5, hundreds of children have been tested for flu and RSV at Cook Children’s Medical Center, and none have come back positive. Ramon Kinloch, M.D., a pediatrician at Cook Children’s, believes this has to do with social distancing and masking due to COVID-19.
“A lot of it does have to do with the precautions we have been taking for COVID-19. When we are wearing a mask, we are less likely to spread those respiratory droplets that transmit RSV and flu viruses,” Kinloch said.
Dr. Kinloch says another reason he believes there haven’t been cases is that people aren’t around each other as much right now. With limited contact with those outside of our family units, the physical spread of the virus’ droplets is less likely to happen.
Though there haven’t been any cases yet, Dr. Kinloch believes infections will begin to rise, especially with families gathering for the holidays.
“We are beginning to see people get a little more relaxed, especially with there being a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon. With that, we will probably begin to see a rise in the flu and RSV numbers,” Dr. Kinloch said.
Dr. Kinloch explained that in years past, Cook Children’s typically sees a slow start and then a huge spike of infections, and he doesn’t expect this year to be any different.
If you believe your child has the flu or RSV, you should look for symptoms such as a fever for more than two or three days, body aches, running or stuffy nose, and coughing. For infants specifically, one sign that could indicate RSV is fast breathing and retractions.
Dr. Kinloch says differentiating between the flu, RSV and COVID-19 can be tricky. While the symptoms are very similar, one distinguishing factor is the loss of taste and smell, which primarily accompany the COVID-19 virus.
“If a child says, “I can’t smell anything,” we have to distinguish if that’s a stuffy nose or if they literally can’t smell or taste anything. If that is the case, we would more likely be dealing with a COVID-19 situation,” Dr. Kinloch said.
The only way to know for sure if you or your child has either illness is by getting tested. Dr. Kinloch says even testing has its limitations and it all comes down to when you get tested, what symptoms you have, and your exposure. He warns that each case is different and parents should always reach out to their physician if symptoms are worsening and fever will not break.
“They are with them and they know them better than we do. If a parent is uncomfortable with how their child looks or they have a gut feeling, it’s always important to call their doctor and have them evaluated. I believe that parents are equipped to know when something is wrong with their child,” Dr. Kinloch said.
So how do I know if my child needs to be seen? Call your pediatrician if your child:
• Has more than three or four days of fever (temperature over 100.4 degrees)
• Has any type of sustained and fast breathing
• Is lethargic or limp
Dr. Kinloch says his best advice is to ensure you’re following all CDC guidelines and to remember, it’s about keeping each other safe. He advises all families to get the flu vaccine, wash your hands, and be sure to remember the guidelines amid the pandemic.
Get to know Ramon Kinloch, M.D.
Dr. Kinloch is a Cook Children's pediatrician at Cook Children's Pediatrics Fort Worth - Forest Park and now a proud dad.
"My desire to practice medicine really stemmed from my interest in the sciences. I actually thought about a career as an astronaut at first, but decided that wasn't for me after watching the movie 'Armageddon'. As I got older, I enjoyed spending time in the church nursery and developed a passion for teaching/mentoring children and adolescents. Becoming a pediatrician allowed me to integrate what I love doing and have fun serving others.
Outside of practicing medicine, I enjoy traveling, especially internationally to experience and learn about the different cultures of our world. I love music and dancing. I enjoy watching and playing sports (I'm a big Michigan Wolverines and Dallas Cowboys fan!). Last but not least, I enjoy checking out new restaurants.
I am thankful and blessed to be married to the love of my life Andrea. We are now the proud parents of our son, Tyson, who can melt your heart with a smile—even if there’s a pacifier in the way. We have a lab mix dog, Ramsey, who now thinks he’s a babysitter. I love being a pediatrician because it is one of the few careers where you can let you inner kid be free!