Manitoba doctors address RSV and influenza concerns in Manitoba during town hall

As Manitoba continues to deal with high numbers of RSV and influenza A, the province’s top doctor and the head of pediatric medicine at HSC’s Children’s Hospital talked with Manitobans during a telephone town hall.

Dr. Brent Roussin and Dr. Elisabete Doyle answered questions from concerned Manitobans Tuesday evening.

The topics ranged from when to take your children to emergency room when they are sick and advice about vaccines to when kids should go back to school and daycare.

As a doctor at the children’s hospital, Doyle told people what to be aware of before going to the ER.

“Anytime you see your child having difficulty breathing, so that may mean those little noses flaring, they may be sucking in between their ribs, they may be engaging their tummy muscles. If their colour is poor, if they’re having pauses in breathing, especially with young infants, that’s a reason to come to the emergency department,” said Doyle.

She added if kids aren’t drinking enough, if they are sleepy and won’t wake up and if an infant less than three months old has a fever, those are also reasons to go to the ER.

Doyle said a high fever for children isn’t dangerous and said there are many ways to manage a fever, such as comfortably undressing them, giving them fluids, and running a fan to cool kids down. She added unless the child is an infant under three months, a high fever shouldn’t be a reason to come to the ER.

If the parents want to go down the path of medication, Doyle said it may be difficult due to the supply chain issues. However, parents can take their adult medication like Tylenol and ibuprofen to a compounding pharmacist and they can properly divide it up into the right dose for children.

Roussin was asked about vaccines, specifically about waiting between vaccines and when to get them.

The top doctor continues to encourage people to get vaccinated, whether it be for influenza or COVID.

He said people should get vaccinated as soon as possible and, if they are sick, wait to recover and then talk to their health-care provider about the best course of action.

Roussin also addressed masking recommendations for children.

“Questions regarding masking have to go back to the multiple layers that we can take to protect ourselves, right? So we want those vaccines up to date, staying home when ill, washing our hands, proper cough hygiene, and then wearing a mask in indoor public places,” said Roussin.

He noted masking is not going to be mandated but said this is advice people should consider.

A daycare employee asked the doctors when it is a good time to return to school or daycare after a child has been sick.

Roussin said as soon as symptoms develop, children should be staying home.

“If it’s a respiratory virus that we have no diagnosis for, then staying home until, you know, (they are) improving. So certainly no fever, and clearly improving for a couple of days,” said Roussin.

Specifically for COVID, Roussin said the advice hasn’t changed and people should wait for at least five days before returning.

Despite the high number of cases of RSV and influenza in the province, Doyle noted parents shouldn’t be concerned about long term concerns related to these diseases compared to health concerns following a COVID diagnosis.

However, she there are things to watch for while they are sick.

“If the RSV is causing pneumonia or bronchitis, the child is having difficulty breathing, the child is not eating, the child has poor colour, those would be indications to be seen and it may indicate that things are worsening for that child,” said Doyle.

“Sometimes those children need some oxygen, some suction, some IV fluid.”

She said virtually all children recover from RSV, and those who struggle after being sick likely have underlying conditions.

Earlier on Tuesday, Doyle said during a news conference that 182 patients went to the children’s hospital emergency department Monday and 16 of those patients were admitted.

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