Do children have to mask up again? What experts say about taking precautions during RSV, flu scares

Rising cases of RSV and the flu have parents wondering if their kids should wear face masks again. (Photo: Getty Creative)

For some years, COVID-19[feminine] was a major concern as winter approached. But now there’s a so-called tripledemic of diseases circulating – and the cases are piling up.

Currently in the United States, flu cases are beginning to skyrocket, with 9% of virus tests positive for influenza, according to data from the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC also notes that 4.3% of visits to healthcare professionals are currently for respiratory illness “above baseline.”

At the same time, COVID-19 cases are rising again, for CDC data. That’s not all, however. The cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) soar. 18.2% of RSV screening tests recently came back positive, according to the CDCwith a chart that tracks cases nationwide showing an almost vertical rise over the past few weeks.

Reports flocks of schools closing due to flu, RSV and COVID outbreaks, signaling that respiratory viruses are poised to wreak havoc this season. With all of this, it’s understandable to wonder if you should give your child a mask to protect them from respiratory illnesses.

Dr. Betty Choi, a pediatrician, children’s book author and mother of two in central California, told Yahoo Life that she was masking her 6- and 9-year-olds again after allowing them to go without a mask during small gatherings.

“Mask wearing is a normal and simple public health strategy in many countries, long before the COVID-19 pandemic. We were inspired to adopt this practice as a family,” says Choi. Choi says her family uses masks to “minimize the spread of contagious infections” and notes that it’s also in an effort to maintain consistent childcare.

“We don’t have backup childcare, and missed school days negatively impact parents’ work and other responsibilities,” Choi says.

Entrepreneur Lionel Mora told Yahoo Life he decided to make his 5-year-old daughter wear a mask again. “Now that everyone is gathering normally again, we are seeing so many diseases spreading,” he says. “Everyone’s immune system seems to be a bit more sensitive from being indoors and isolated for so long.”

Mora says having her daughter wear a mask is a way to “relocate” her to crowded environments like school “where children again spread germs, to protect her from any illnesses and allow her to participate safely”.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist and professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, told Yahoo Life that it’s “a totally reasonable idea” for parents to have their children masked again. “We’ve learned through COVID that masks do indeed provide an extra layer of protection,” he says. “We anticipate that people of all ages who want to protect themselves will do so.”

Dr. Marc Hicar, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University at Buffalo in New York, told Yahoo Life it’s “perfectly reasonable,” especially if you have family members who are immunocompromised or your child has battled influenza or RSV. in the old days.

However, he adds a caveat: “These infections are difficult to prevent when they spread in the community and a child’s perfect use of a mask can be a difficult question.” Hicar also points out that, although the CDC has tips about masking to prevent the spread of influenza, there is no official recommendation for people who are not infected to mask up when community spread of influenza is high.

dr. Ashanti wood, a pediatrician at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, tells Yahoo Life that masking to avoid RSV can also be tricky. “As RSV attacks toddlers and infants the most, it may be difficult to suggest that masks will have a substantial impact as masks may not be worn properly and are not recommended for those under 2 years of age. “, he says.

To protect yourself and your family members, Schaffner recommends vaccinating everyone against the flu and COVID-19. (Unfortunately, there is no vaccine against RSV yet, but it’s in progress.) “Then consider wearing a mask when you are in gathering circumstances,” he adds.

Hand hygiene is also important to prevent the spread of RSV, Hicar says. “Most Data shows that RSV is transmitted through contact with secretions, so hand hygiene might be the most effective of these interventions,” he says.

If you know you don’t mask all the time but might in some circumstances, Woods suggests keeping an eye on respiratory virus levels in your area and masking accordingly. “I am personally in favor of seasonal masking when the burden of disease is high, since the result can be respiratory failure and a local intensive care unit does not have space to care for. a child,” he said.

Schaffner says he doesn’t expect most people to embrace masking again, but says he does expect some willpower. “There is a segment of the population that has taken preventive measures and is now more health conscious,” he says. “They will wear masks when flu, COVID and RSV are high in their communities. It makes sense.”

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