Respiratory viruses infect Wichita children at aggressive rate

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WICHITA, KAN. --- Two respiratory viruses generally not seen in children until later this fall are spreading much sooner and quicker than usual. Many Wichita hospitals and clinics are already as full now as they would be during the peak of flu season.

Just like the flu virus, which mutates, these virus strains can also change. Doctors say that's what's happening this year--the enterovirus and rhinovirus are more aggressive than before.

Dr. Samantha Algrim with Via Christi Clinic says the viruses were first seen in Kansas City about a month ago. She says parents in Wichita should now be on the lookout for cold or asthma-like symptoms.

"Sneezing, coughing, to as serious as a viral meningitis, which isn't life-threatening but it's very uncomfortable and it can cause headaches."

The illnesses can usually be treated at home with Tylenol and rest. This year, a higher number of patients are going to the hospital for treatment.

"The viruses are causing our pediatric ward to be full," Dr. Algrim said. "Normally at this time of year, we'd only be running at a fourth to a half full. But right now we are at capacity."

Dr. Algrim says the best and easiest way to minimize the risk of getting infected is to wash your hands.

If your child develops a fever that doesn't respond to medicine, like Tylenol, or if your child is having difficulty breathing, go to the ER.

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