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Respiratory viruses hit families and children especially hard

Cases of respiratory viruses among children have more than doubled in the past couple of weeks at Rady Children’s Hospital.

As the region’s leading pediatrics health center, the dramatic increase is an indicator of a trend in the traditional winter virus outbreaks.

“Viruses always take advantage of opportunities,” said Dr. Nicholas Holmes, senior vice president and CEO of Rady.


Holmes has been on the front lines of pediatric care for many years. He said the perfect storm of a healthcare crisis is happening as COVID-19 continues to leave children vulnerable after months of wearing masks.

“They weren't necessarily exposed to the normal common cold viruses, and so now their immune systems may not be as familiar with those viruses,” Holmes said.

Justin and Rachel Henderson traveled from Escondido to Rady's emergency room on Tuesday, following their pediatrician’s orders. Their 1-year-old son Luke has been sick for a few days.

“My son is experiencing an asthma attack and having breathing issues,” Henderson said. “He also has a cough, runny nose, and now he has redness in his eye, too.”

Earlier this month, students at Patrick Henry High School in Del Cerro experienced a respiratory virus outbreak. More than a thousand of them were absent from school for a couple of days.


Four cases of the flu-like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) illness were confirmed. The rest of the students are suspected to have had the flu, a common cold, and a few were diagnosed with COVID-19.

According to officials with the San Diego Unified School District, attendance has returned to normal at the school.

As cases continue to multiply, Dr. Holmes has suggestions for parents to keep their children healthy: “If you're sick stay home. Hand washing and hand hygiene sanitizers are really important. If you cough or sneeze, sneeze or cough into your arm and certainly wearing a mask can help prevent you from getting sick,” he said.

At Rady's, the Hendersons hoped for the best for their son.

“His health, her health, my health, and then after, that the health of the other kids he goes to daycare with,” Justin Henderson said. “Is it something that’s going to continue just like a revolving door of illness?”

That is the question many parents want answered.

This is the place to find news, information and resources to help you make decisions about the children under your care and support you in this adventure we call "parenting."