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Wisconsin officials see increase in non-COVID-19 respiratory viruses

Children and older adults are most at risk, state health officials say.
Posted at 6:39 PM, Jun 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-28 19:49:26-04

Health officials are alerting the public about an increase in non-COVID-19 respiratory illnesses.

Nationally and locally, they say respiratory syncytial (RSV), parainfluenza and seasonal coronaviruses have all increased, especially among children.

These seasonal viruses are not typically seen in June.

"We have seen a major spike over the last few weeks of 60-70 or even 80 kids who are coming down," DHS Respiratory Disease Epidemiologist Tom Haupt said.

Haupt said nationally, children under the age of five have been contracting parainfluenza, a virus that normally would not be seen.

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Tom Haupt

"RSV and coronavirus are winter viruses, by now they should be gone. The peak activity would have been back in February," Haupt said. "Some of these viruses have not been seen in over a year and a half, and they're starting to emerge again."

Across the state, 60 to 80 children have come down with influenza.

Haupt said the symptoms can vary from mild to pneumonia, landing some children in the intensive care unit. Some children have high fevers, a cough or rapid breathing.

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While he can't specifically say the cause of the increase, he believes the safety measures the world followed during COVID-19 could help, such as washing your hands frequently.

"We'd ask if you're not feeling well, wear a mask. We are used to wearing a mask for the last 19 months, it's nothing any different," Haupt said.

While the state has not seen a major outbreak in congregated settings, health officials want to remind people to stay vigilant because none of the seasonal viruses have a vaccine.

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