KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Continued increases in flu and RSV cases among children prompted a Catholic school in Kansas City, Kansas, to close for the rest of the week.
On Wednesday, Christ the King Catholic school in KCK said a growing number of students and staff have been diagnosed with the flu or RSV.
The school said it will use the five day break to disinfect the building.
Children’s Mercy Hospital said it’s already treating more kids with influenza or RSV than it’s ever seen in the years before the COVID-19 pandemic.
And there’s no sign that these illnesses have peaked yet.
Doctors at Children’s Mercy Hospital are urging parents of kids 6 months and older to get flu shots for their children, and encourage them to wash their hands frequently.
“I’m not surprised that there’s a school already closing,” Dr. Jennifer Watts, chief emergency management medical officer at the hospital, said. “It would not surprise me if a few more have to close as we continue to push through this surge right now.”
The hospital said its urgent care and emergency rooms have very long wait times this week, but doctors are working to see the sickest of the sick as soon as possible.
It’s a similar scenario at University Health and other health care facilities in Kansas City.
“We are seeing way more children now with RSV than we have in previous years,” said Raquel Garcia, registered nurse with University Health.
Some doctors are anticipating more school closures alongside longer wait times at emergency rooms, specifically for children.
“To go from not seeing 24 [cases] to seeing hundreds of people all in one month, that’s more than triple,” Garcia said.
Doctors warn that RSV poses a real threat to kids with underlying health conditions and children less than a year old.
That’s a concern for parents using daycares — moms and dads who acknowledge that it seems almost inevitable that their kid had, has or is going to catch some form of sickness.
For baby Adeline and her mom Jesse Hillegeist, the weather is easier to read than potential sickness these days.
“Oh, I am so alert. I am so on top of, like, if she even remotely has a cough, I’m like, ‘Is it teething? Is it sickness? What is it?'” Hillegeist said.
Baby Rhy’s mom, Sierra Fischer, is a neo-natal nurse and is looking for troublesome symptoms.
“I definitely don’t get too rattled when you get a little bit of a runny nose. It’s really the fever and the wheezing and coughs and stuff like that that would really make me worried,” she said.
Garcia at University Health said there are a lot of things for parents to consider when thinking about RSV.
“What we need to remember is that kids are still learning how to fight off viruses. Their immune systems are not as strong as our immune systems. And so they don’t have as strong of a fighting chance as adults do,” Garcia said.
She said parents can schedule appointments with pediatricians early on in infections but should try to avoid ERs, which are currently filled with RSV patients.
Watts said for the first time in a long time, Children’s Mercy is seeing demand for care far outweigh the hospital’s capacity to treat sick children.
“But if it gets to the point where it’s affecting your breathing — so RSV attacks our respiratory tract. And with children they’ll right away with one single breath, and you’ll see it in their chest,” Garcia said.
“And for our little babies under one years old — who it normally affects the worst of everyone — they will start to turn gray and blue in color because they’re not getting all the oxygen they’re supposed to.”
Dehydration — presenting as fewer wet diapers and crying without tears — also means an ER visit.
Some moms also told FOX4 they are trying to prevent spread best they can.
“With 3-year-olds, they’re very good with that. The little babies, it’s a little harder where you just kind of hope that everybody’s being safe and sanitary and not touching their little faces and hands and stuff like that,” Fischer said.