Bronchial infections among children jump

Parents urged to take precautions with infants

Cheryl Rockman-Greenberg
Dr. Cheryl Rockman-Greenberg, Medical Director of the Winnipeg Health Region’s Child Health Program.
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Respiratory infections

Winnipeg Health Region
Published Thursday, January 3, 2013

Winnipeg parents are being warned to take precautions to protect their infants against respiratory infections.

Dr. Cheryl Rockman-Greenberg, Medical Director of the Winnipeg Health Region’s Child Health Program, said today the number of infants hospitalized for bronchiolitis has risen significantly during the month of December.

There were 85 admissions to Children’s Hospital last month, and a total of 149 lab-confirmed cases of children who have contracted the Respiratory Synctitial Virus (RSV) since August, 2012.

“As of this afternoon at 4 p.m., there are 14 children in our pediatric intensive care unit l. Ten are intubated or on other ventilatory support and of these, nine are suspected or confirmed to date to have RSV. Three of the other four are requiring intensive care and have a significant respiratory component to their illnesses, not necessarily RSV,” said Rockman-Greenberg, adding the spike in cases began six weeks ago. “As the children recover, they are transferred to the medical wards.”

RSV is the leading cause of respiratory infections in children under two years of age. It is very contagious and can be spread from child to child and adults to children. RSV is not confined to pediatric patients; adults, especially the elderly and those in ill-health, are also at risk.

“RSV causes infections year-round, but with the cold weather in December, and the holiday season where people go to malls and get together, there is greater chance of spreading the virus,” said Rockman-Greenberg.

Hand washing is the best way to prevent infection, along with keeping babies away from crowded areas like shopping malls and schools where there are people with colds or other illnesses.

The following numbers reflect RSV cases since August 2012 but an increase in admissions started in mid-December:

  • 149 lab confirmed cases
  • 85 admissions to Children’s Hospital in December
  • 29 admissions in November
  • 12 admissions in less than 28 days
  • 63 admissions were between 1 and 6 months
  • 87 admissions were from outside Winnipeg (non R2 and R3 postal codes)
  • 43 of the 149 RSV cases were seen in Children’s Hospital Emergency Department, treated and released

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