Increased respiratory viruses spreading amongst infants and children this summer

The NHS is bracing itself for an increase in children with coughs, colds and respiratory conditions over the summer holidays and into autumn that are normally spread during winter.

The rise in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and parainfluenza are believed to be a result of children and babies born during lockdown having not built-up immunity against the germs they would usually pick up from playgroups, nursery and school.

Paediatrician Dr Patrick Aldridge from Frimley Park Hospital said: “During the past few months we have seen an increase in children with mild viral illnesses including diarrhoea and vomiting, wheeze, bronchiolitis and croup. We typically see these conditions in the autumn, not summer, which has put pressure on the NHS because parents are worried their child may have COVID-19.

“Most viral illnesses typically clear up within seven days, without the need for medical support. For most children, treatment with paracetamol and/or ibuprofen, with sugary fluids when they’re not eating, are usually enough to help. I would encourage parents to access the NHS Frimley Healthier Together website for up-to-date advice”.

Dr Alex Streeter de Diego, GP and Paediatric Clinical Fellow and Clinical Lead for Frimley Healthier Together, said: “It can be worrying when your child is unwell and often what parents need is some reassurance their child isn’t developing serious complications from a virus, or has an infection that may need treatment. Parents who are concerned, should visit the NHS Frimley Healthier Together website. The website provides expert advice and support to parents and carers to help them manage a range of common childhood illnesses themselves and equally recognise when they need call their GP, 111 or visit the emergency department.

“The site gives clear information for each symptom in a traffic system; red for the emergency department, amber for GP and green for self care. This way parents and carers can be reassured they are taking appropriate action at home and know when they need more specialist help.”

By having all the information in one place and where people know the information has come from trusted health professionals and local service providers, Frimley Healthier Together can help parents feel more comfortable to make the right decisions about what to do next for their child’s care.