SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — While the coronavirus pandemic took center stage this winter, pediatric influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases plummeted to unprecedented levels.
“This is really, truly remarkable,” said University of Utah Health and Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital Dr. Andrew Pavia.
Doctors at Primary Children’s Hospital are used to treating hundreds of patients for flu or RSV every winter. So far, there hasn’t been a single case this season.
“We are seeing something that I have never seen in the last 35 years,” Dr. Andrew Pavia said.
Now is the time of year considered the peak season for the respiratory illnesses. In prior years, roughly 80 children a week were admitted to the state’s largest pediatric hospital, with a third requiring intensive care.
“Clearly, masking is playing a big role, keeping kids more at home, infants are not mixing with other children who may be bringing viruses home from school. That’s probably playing a role,” Dr. Pavia said.
COVID-19 safety measures can explain some, but not all, of the reduced cases of influenza and RSV because of the way the viruses spread. However, Dr. Pavia suspects the trend won’t last.
“We really can’t predict it really well, but my gut feeling is that it will come roaring back. We will have a bad RSV season when it does come back,” Dr. Pavia said.
When that will happen remains unknown.