Chicago RSV cases dipping as flu, COVID, strep throat cases ramp up, doctors say

CHICAGO — There’s a new, urgent push by CDC to get vaccinated against both the flu and COVID as multiple respiratory viruses are making children and adults sick nationwide, overwhelming hospitals and pediatric wards.

Similar to so many pediatric offices, the phones have been ringing non-stop at Northwestern Children’s Practice with calls of sick kids.

“Influenza is pretty ramped right now, but that is something that usually will peak over the course of a month or two and start to slow down,” Dr. Scott Goldstein said.

What has slowed down is RSV cases in kids. Rush Children’s Hospital is seeing a dip as well, but flu cases among children and adults are surging and Rush is starting to see COVID hospitalizations increase compared to a couple weeks ago.

“Since so few people have gotten the booster and immunity does wane over time, everybody expects more cases and more hospitalizations in the next one to two months,” said Dr. John Segreti, infection control & medical director at Rush University Medical Center.

While Rush is prepared, so are pediatric offices. Not only are they dealing with respiratory illnesses, but strep throat is among infections that typically circulate this time of year. It can begin with stomach pain.

“The difference with strep is it tends to be mostly centered around sore throat, that is the primary symptom,” Dr. Goldstein said. “With influenza, COVID and other respiratory viruses, you are going to have more of a runny nose and cough in kids.”

And unlike flu, COVID and other respiratory viruses, strep can be treated with antibiotics.

Strep has caused a scare in the UK, where the infection has been linked to at least six deaths in children. Pediatricians here say it is extremely rare for strep to cause death or severe illness.

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