Winnipeg mom warns parents after previously healthy toddler admitted to intensive care unit with respiratory virus – CBC.ca | Wonder Mind Kids

A mother whose toddler was admitted to a Winnipeg intensive care unit with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) warns parents to be vigilant as a number of viruses are circulating this fall.

Lauren Kelly says her almost two-year-old daughter was healthy before October.

Earlier this month, the child contracted COVID-19 and hasn’t really recovered, Kelly said.

She took her daughter to the Health Sciences Center last Friday, and the toddler was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit diagnosed with RSV after treatment with asthma medication failed to address her breathing problems.

“She’s not the kind of kid that we would have expected to bring to an emergency with a cold,” Kelly said.

The symptoms of RSV are similar to those of colds and flu, such as cough, runny nose, fever, and loss of appetite, but they can get worse and affect a child’s breathing.

Kelly’s daughter was transferred from intensive care on Monday and is breathing much better, but the experience was “terrifying. Certainly not something I would wish on parents,” she said.

Kelly’s daughter is seen in the pediatric intensive care unit at Winnipeg Children’s Hospital last week battling a severe case of RSV. She’s in a med ward now and feeling better. (Submitted by Lauren Kelly)

The girl must be able to breathe without supplemental oxygen for at least 24 hours before being discharged from the hospital. The family hopes to bring her home on Saturday.

Despite this, Kelly says she is concerned about getting her daughter back into kindergarten because she is now more vulnerable to serious consequences from other infections.

She hopes other parents will be careful, knowing that COVID-19, RSV and other viruses are circulating.

Kelly’s husband is holding their daughter in Children’s Hospital. Toddler had COVID-19 before contracting RSV, her mother says. (Submitted by Lauren Kelly)

“Parents need to know that this virus is circulating and that it can have serious consequences in children even without risk factors. So I think parents need to be extra careful about that,” Kelly said.

Respiratory problems are increasing in Manitoba

On Thursday, the chief of the Health Sciences Center said Winnipeg Children’s Hospital is seeing an increase in the number of children being hospitalized with respiratory problems, including RSV.

There have been 46 RSV-related hospitalizations at Children’s Hospital since July, a spokesman for Manitoba Shared Health said in an email on Friday.

So far in October there have been 11 RSV-related hospital admissions, two of which required admission to the pediatric intensive care unit, the spokesman said.

In addition, since July 188 children with acute bronchiolitis, which in the vast majority of cases is caused by RSV, have come to the children’s hospital. In October there have been 36 of these cases so far, including 11 that were so severe that the children had to be hospitalized.

dr Elisabete Doyle is Medical Director and Division Chief of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Children’s Hospital. She says the early rise in hospital RSV cases is worrying. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

dr Elisabete Doyle, the medical director and department head for pediatric emergency medicine at Children’s Hospital, says staff don’t usually see such a spike in RSV cases until November. This year, this increase began in July.

According to Doyle, the virus is particularly serious for babies under three months old, those born prematurely or those with underlying medical conditions.

But any child should be taken to the hospital if they have serious symptoms such as a choking cough, if they are very tired or have trouble breathing, she said.

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, cold and flu season, and the many cases of RSV, staff at the hospital are concerned, according to Doyle.

“To a certain extent, we are entering waters that we have not entered before. It’s a bit unknown. We have all these viruses – the perfect storm in terms of respiratory viruses and we’ll have to see what the future brings.”

The hospital is preparing by making sure parents know where to take their children if they become ill and ensuring there is enough space and staff to care for them.

However, recruiting is an ongoing challenge in Manitoba, which is why Doyle is asking parents to do their part.

“We have a shared responsibility to get these things under control,” she said.

“The more parents can do at home to protect their own infants and minimize exposure and [getting] vaccinated and things like that that help.”

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