‘It’s kind of a triple whammy’: Children’s Hospital doctor on respiratory viruses

Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 6:32 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A trio of viruses is keeping medical professionals at Children’s Hospital New Orleans busy. This as the CDC warns of a certain strain of the Enterovirus.

Dr. Mark Kline is Physician-in-Chief and Chief Medical Officer at Children’s Hospital.

“We are, we’re as full as we’ve ever been right now and most of it is respiratory disease and a lot of it is Enterovirus. We don’t know whether it is specifically this Enterovirus D.68 that CDC has put out the notice on, but our test positivity rate for Enterovirus and Rhinovirus right now is above 40% which is an extraordinary figure,” said Kline.

On Friday, the CDC issued an alert about Enterovirus D68. In some patients, it causes paralysis.

“There’s so much Enterovirus right now if we see children who have muscle weakness or the acute onset of paralysis, we need to be thinking about Enterovirus D.68 as a possible cause,” said Kline.

And there are other symptoms.

“It causes a respiratory illness, very much like RSV, or influenza or COVID and it could be quite severe. It could be severe enough to land a child in the intensive care unit and children can rarely die from it,” said Kline. “The other important feature of Enterovirus D. 68, the one that the CDC has alerted medical professionals to is that it can produce this condition called Acute Flaccid Myelitis, which is a polio type picture, produces paralysis.”

Some parents of young children were surprised to learn about the current viruses that are circulating and expressed concern.

“That’s scary, don’t like to hear that,” said Tim Kappel.

Poppy Miles said, “Yes, of course, I’m concerned. Everyone’s concerned.”

And there are also cases of the flu and RSV.

“We’re also seeing Influenza A. It’s unusual to see influenza this early in the season but, you know, here we are mid-September, and we already have a lot of influenza circuiting and we’re seeing Respiratory Syncytial Virus,” said Kline.

He said some viruses including RSV are changing their pattern.

“That’s a virus that generally circulates in the Winter but here we are in September and we’re seeing a fair amount of that, so it’s kind of the triple whammy, to be honest with you right now. We’re seeing Enterovirus, we’re seeing influenza, we’re seeing RSV, thankfully we’re not seeing very much COVID right now,” Kline stated.

Kline believes masks still have a place, especially when indoors and around a lot of other people. “Handwashing is really key, I’m a big proponent of masks, we saw the benefit of masks when we were trying to prevent COVID. It prevented COVID, masks do work for COVID, but it prevented these other viruses that are spread by respiratory droplets,” said Kline.

Kappel says the COVID-19 pandemic made the public more aware of such protocols.

“That’s one thing that the pandemic, you know, has done, making everybody a little bit more vigilant about washing hands and being sanitary,” he said.

Kline says cloth masks should be a thing of the past. He said N-95, K-N95, and surgical masks are better choices.

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