Warning over huge surge in potentially deadly children's breathing illness

There could be a huge surge in cases of a common children’s breathing illness this winter, as a lung charity warns of lowered immunity and an increase in urgent calls to its helpline already. Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is already ‘rife’ due to lowered immunity in the population, the British Lung Foundation (BLF) has said and it can lead to hospitalisation and even death in some cases.
The charity has already seen a 400% rise in calls to its helpline from parents worried about their child having breathing difficulties. The peak of cases is usually seen around January, but the pandemic lockdowns last year meant that there were far fewer cases than normal. This has led to fears that this year children will have “ much lower immunity” at a time when the NHS is already under extreme pressure.
For some, RSV can lead to bronchiolitis – an inflammatory infection of the lower airways which can make it hard to breathe. Initially, bronchiolitis resembles a common cold but can develop over a few days into a high temperature, a dry and persistent cough, difficulty feeding, and wheezing.
While many cases of the children’s breathing illness clear up in two to three weeks, a number of children need hospital admission. The BLF said that over the past three months an estimated 1,000 children have needed hospital care in England alone, reports Sky News.
The BLF has now issued new guidance over the children’s breathing illness. It includes asking anyone with a cough or cold to stay away from young children, making sure that anyone who handles their child washes their hands regularly and not smoking around young children and babies.
Dr Andy Whittamore, clinical lead at the British Lung Foundation, said: “In general practice, we are seeing a lot of children with coughs and viruses that weren’t circulating last year and so their immunity is lowered. Doctors on the ground are concerned that alongside a rapid increase in cases of COVID-19, we are also going to see a surge in diseases like bronchiolitis.
“Like most other colds and viruses, RSV starts with a blocked or runny nose and can progress to cause a cough, fever and sometimes breathing difficulties. The good news is that for most children it will be mild and will clear in a few days without any treatment. Sometimes a cough might drag on for a few weeks.
“It is extremely rare for a well child to die of bronchiolitis, but there are some who will need medical help, although that is still unusual.”

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Written by

Claire Gordon


    • Naimah Yianni

      13 January 2022 • 14:11

      Immunity is lowered because the population was locked up and not allowed to develop immunity properly. if kids are suffering lung issues then they have to stop wearing masks. masks cause lung problems – it is proven. Mask mandates are making people more sick

    • John Harper

      13 January 2022 • 15:39

      Of course this sudden increase could be due to the little ones having to wear a mask and breath in their own bacteria?

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