Children are currently being admitted to hospital at the second-highest rate ever recorded due to a spike in respiratory illnesses, medical experts have said.
Scientists believe youngsters are getting infected with viruses now that were suppressed over winter by the lockdown.
In children’s emergency departments, some doctors are reporting admission rates comparable to “the busiest days of pre-pandemic winters”.
And A&Es across the UK have been reporting record numbers of young children being admitted.
The driving force behind the admissions appears to be non-Covid respiratory illnesses according to Prof Simon de Lusignan, director of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Research and Surveillance Centre.
“Things are returning to normal levels after they were very much suppressed by the social isolation and measures,” he said.
The expert said bugs like Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) have been on the rise among both adults and children across the UK – but what is it and should you be concerned?
What is Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)?
RSV is a common virus that usually causes mild symptoms but can lead to bronchiolitis and pneumonia, especially in children under two.
It’s estimated to result in 30,000 hospital admissions in children annually and more than 80 deaths.
By contrast Covid has, according to infectious disease experts, so far led to 4,000 admissions and 20 deaths in children.
According to the NHS, the virus normally only results in a cough or cold, especially in older children.
It spreads by making its way down the windpipe and into the lungs, causing the airways to become swollen.
Who is most at risk?
The bug is more dangerous in babies in and younger children because they have undeveloped airways that can get blocked more easily.
Several factors can make a person more vulnerable to the virus, including being breastfed for less than two months or not at all and being exposed to smoke – for example, if a parent smokes.
Similarly to Covid, underlying health conditions also increase a sufferer’s likelihood of developing an extreme case.
Congenital heart disease, chronic lung disease and being born prematurely all heighten a person’s risk of suffering severe symptoms.