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Respiratory viruses are on the rise after COVID-19 restrictions eased

Our COVID-19 guidelines were keeping other illnesses at bay, but now we are seeing them make a comeback.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Now that we are starting to gather and unmask, viruses are making a comeback during a time we wouldn't normally have them.

RSV, parainfluenza, and other respiratory viruses are on the rise in the U.S. It is because of loosening of the strict COVID guidelines we've had in place this past year. 

Normally, these viruses would be prominent during the winter months, but because there's been such low exposure this past year, the viruses are spreading during the summer.

Arkansas epidemiologist Jennifer Dillaha has been tracking RSV specifically in the state. 

Since May, positive cases have risen dramatically from 4% to 18%. Since young children haven't been exposed to the virus like they would during a normal year, Dr. Dillaha doesn't expect the numbers to decrease anytime soon.

"This next year we may have a fairly robust RSV season for all the kids that did not get exposed, getting exposed once it starts circulating in the wintertime when it usually does," said Dr. Dillaha.

And we aren't done with COVID-19 yet. The new variant Delta could have an impact on your kids.

"It appears from the information we are getting from other countries where it has already become the dominant variant that it does effect younger people more severely than the previous variants," said Dr. Dillaha.

Dr. Dillaha said there is something you can do to protect you and your family.

"I would recommend that parents and older siblings get vaccinated against COVID-19. It's easy to bring it home and the Delta variant is so much more infectious that it will find people that do not have immunity for it," said Dr. Dillaha.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is also going around. It's highly contagious in young children. Symptoms include fever, rash, and sores inside the mouth.

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