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Respiratory illnesses on the rise, especially in children

According to UPMC, children and young adults are experiencing an unusual uptick in respiratory illnesses for this time of the year.

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Across the country, respiratory illnesses among children and young adults are on the rise. 

Hospitals are seeing more and more sick children by the day.

"We are seeing a lot of rhinovirus and enterovirus that is making kids pretty sick. We actually saw the enterovirus about eight years ago now, which caused a lot of sickness in kids, and we are seeing that same strain make a comeback this year, too," said Dr. Ashley Pence. 

Dr. Pence is a pediatrician at UPMC Williamsport

She says the number of respiratory cases is unusually high for this time of the year.

"Viruses mutate and change; we have learned a lot about that over the past couple of years," she said. "So, there are just some years where they are a little more potent than other years. I think that is definitely a reason why we are having a bad year this year."

Medical professionals say the rise in respiratory illness cases, as well as possible flu and COVID outbreaks, could put a significant strain on health systems heading into the colder months.

"It basically burdens our health care system. So, we want to make sure you call your primary care doctor first," she explained. "That way, we could decide which kids need to go to the ER and need to be seen so that we are using all the inpatient beds appropriately." 

Dr. Pence encourages parents to monitor their child's symptoms. Here are some tips she shared for your kids.

"Things you can do is wash hands, and if your kiddo is sick and they go to school or daycare, and I would keep them home until they are feeling better," added Dr. Pence.

She also suggested getting your children vaccinated for both the flu and COVID before the winter.

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