Spike in respiratory illnesses sending kids to hospitals

Doctors say respiratory illnesses, colds, and coughs are becoming more common among children as Fall begins.

"Our sick volume has doubled already in the past week and a half," said Pediatrician Salvatore Caravella with Allied Physicians Group.

While COVID-19 is still a threat, much of the country is also entering what’s predicted to be an early and fierce flu season. The majority of children going to the doctor are coming in with symptoms consistent with enterovirus, rhinovirus, parainfluenza, and RSV.

"As kids are becoming more mobile, going back to school, non-masked, on top of one another, play dates. Viruses are coming back to kids in a greater number," Caravella said.

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There is no strain on hospital systems on Long Island right now but in New Jersey, respiratory illness cases over the past few weeks are filling pediatric hospital beds.

Possible theories include the de-conditioning of immune systems after months of mask-wearing and handwashing. 

"We’re not used to getting sick so when we do get sick, we get sicker," said Dr. Dwayne Breining, Executive Director at Northwell Health Labs.

Part of the problem, according to doctors, is that pandemic preventive measures that were in place are now largely gone. Proper hygiene and vaccinations will help combat COVID, viruses, and other illnesses they say.

"I want to urge everybody to get the vaccines at the same time as your COVID boosters," Breining said.

While most viruses will bring mild symptoms - surges are expected throughout the season.

Doctors remind parents to closely monitor their children for signs of excessive coughing and trouble breathing.