Local Doctors Report Rise In Respiratory Virus Infections Among Children

Friday, June 18th 2021, 9:10 pm
By: Chinh Doan

TULSA, Oklahoma -

Doctors around Green Country said they are seeing an alarming number of children for respiratory viruses.

They say it's concerning as these viruses are almost never seen in the summer and dozens of these patients are ending up in the hospital.

Doctors, like the ones at Saint Francis Health System, said they believe these viruses are emerging during an unusual time of year because of the pandemic: For so long, many people stayed home and wore masks, but now COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Two-and-a-half-year-old Ezra spent a week in the hospital after a respiratory virus turned into pneumonia.

"I had no idea the virus was going to be that detrimental to him,” said Chrysty Messick.

 The Tulsa mom said her son was born with lung and heart issues. She said in April, he developed a cough and tested positive for Rhinovirus, which causes the common cold.

Then, it got worse.

"A liter and a half of oxygen, not eating, not even able to take his feeding tube, vomiting, fevers, nonstop,” said Messick.

She said Ezra did get better after being on steroids at the Children's Hospital at Saint Francis. The Pediatric ICU there told News On 6 more than a dozen kids have been admitted for respiratory viruses over the last two weeks.

"Usually, we see small infants with RSV,” said Dr. Phil Barton, medical director of the PICU at the Children's Hospital at Saint Francis. “This time, we're seeing more older infants and young children RSV, simply because they didn't have the winter to go through to become immune to it."

Barton said the staff is now testing patients for more than a dozen respiratory viruses and COVID-19. He also said while respiratory viruses rarely lead to hospitalizations, families should watch for more serious symptoms.

"When a child starts to not eat or drink and has to breathe hard, and they can't eat or drink because of their breathing pattern, that's a good indication to be seen by a physician or an emergency room,” explained Barton.

Ascension Medical Group and Hillcrest Health System told News On 6 they are also seeing an increase in respiratory virus cases.

Doctors stressed the best thing you can do to protect your family is wash your hands often.