What’s Going Around: Early allergy season, RSV, stomach bug

If your child suddenly seems to have the sniffles this week, there may be a reason for that.  Doctors are starting to see spring allergy symptoms across the Midstate.

Dr. Kathleen Zimmerman of Pinnacle Health’s Heritage Pediatrics in Camp Hill reports that pollen seems to be in the air early this year, with symptoms of sneezing, itchy eyes, and runny nose showing up in her office.

Zimmerman said for allergy symptoms, over-the-counter antihistamines could be helpful, but she recommends checking with your child’s doctor first. You can help kids by closing windows and removing clothing after being outside for extended periods.

Zimmerman also reports seeing cases of the flu this week, as well as gastroenteritis, or the stomach bug.  This usually is marked by vomiting and fever for 24 hours of less, followed by diarrhea for a few days to a week.

Lancaster General Health’s Roseville Pediatrics continues to see flu cases, although not nearly as many as in the past few weeks.  They are also seeing seasonal allergy symptoms as well as sore throats, from both viral and strep infections.

Parents should seek medical attention for a sore throat if their child cannot swallow or drink, due to either pain or swelling.  In babies, this often appears as constant drooling with the mouth open, according to Dr. Joan Thode.  Medical attention should also be sought if their child’s voice changes to raspy or muffled or they experience shortness of breath.

Thode said numbing sprays should be avoided as they increase the risk of choking.  The best treatment is ibuprofen or acetaminophen, she said.

Penn State Pediatrics in Hershey is starting to see less flu and more gastroenteritis.  They’re also seeing a lot of strep throat.

The practice in Elizabethtown also reports several cases of bronchiolitis and viral upper respiratory tract infections.

Again this week, WellSpan Medical Group providers are still seeing a high number of flu cases in Adams, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties. Viral upper respiratory infections are also still prevalent in Lancaster County.

Summit Health providers in Franklin County are continuing to see many confirmed cases of RSV in young children. RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is a very common and very contagious virus that infects the upper respiratory tract.

In fact, several children have been hospitalized at Chambersburg Hospital for RSV. In children, RSV can lead to serious and even life-threatening problems.

Although a cough and runny nose are not usually cause for serious concern, you do want to take your child to the doctor right away if they are having trouble breathing, if their cough is producing a yellow, green or gray mucus, if they are inactive or unusually upset, if they refuse to nurse or take a bottle or if they show signs of dehydration, like a lack of tears when they cry, no wet diapers for six hours, or cool, dry skin, Summit Health providers said.

If a baby acts tired, is breathing fast, or has a blue tint to their lips of fingernails, go to an emergency room immediately, they cautioned.

To prevent RSV, encourage frequent hand washing, limit visitors around young babies and keep them out of public places and large crowds.

Usually RSV is common from late fall until early spring and is often quickly spread from child to child. Parents with babies at high risk for complications, such as being born prematurely, are warned to be careful about daycares and pre-schools for that reason.

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