MILWAUKEE — As kids head back to their classrooms, healthcare providers are bracing for waves of illnesses.
"I can certainly say we've already seen cases of bronchiolitis here in August and that's unusually early for us. Typically will see that closer to the end of the calendar year and then into the new year," Dr. Kevin Dahlman said.
Dr. Dahlman is the medical director for Aurora Children's Health. Bronchiolitis is an infection caused by Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and it can make it hard to breathe for young kids.
"So the most recent has even been the last week or two. We've had a couple of hospitalizations that I know from our practice here and I've seen a couple of cases of bronchiolitis that thankfully weren't that severe but needed to be watched carefully by their parents at home," Dr. Dahlman explained.
It is the latest shift in seasonal illnesses.
Dr. Dahlman recalled in 2021 when RSV hit early following a spike in COVID cases. He said it is hard to predict what will happen this year.
He described the most recent flu season as longer than expected but less severe, reinstating what the next one will look like is unknown.
"I suspect it has to do with the pandemic and it has to do with masking and extra precautions that we took over the course of that pandemic," Dr. Dahlman responded when asked why some viruses were presenting outside of typical seasons.
"We just take extra precautions. Lots of handwashing, just making sure that I look for signs of sickness and all that," said Tori Schleicher, a mom of two daughters.
Like any parent, Schleicher said it is important for her girls to be healthy. A previous job at a daycare made her more aware of how hard these viruses can hit.
"I got them their flu shots earlier than I probably would've normally done, just because I was kind of scared about all the stuff," Schleicher said.
Dr. Dahlman underscored there is no need for families to be overly worried, but it is important to keep your guard up by maintaining good hygiene, hand washing, and keeping sick kids at home when they have a fever.
Georgia is reporting an uptick in RSV cases. Dr. Dahlman said that is usually a predictor that a wave will come north, but it is hard to say with certainty when or if it will normalize.