Warm winter could be making children sick

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EAU CLAIRE, Wisc. (WEAU) -- This unseasonably warm winter we've been having has been nice, but doctors say it could be leading to a huge influx in very sick kids in the Chippewa Valley.

Pediatricians at Mayo Clinic Health System say the past few weeks they've seen a spike in upper respiratory illnesses like RSV and pneumonia, and they theorize it's the mild weather that may be at fault.

Little William is just six days old, doctors say he and other babies and toddlers are especially susceptible to serious illnesses this winter.

“There’s been a real explosion in the area with really sick kids with respiratory problems, primarily RSV, we've also had pneumonia,” pediatrician Dr. John Plewa says.

Dr. Plewa says there are a number of theories explaining the spike, but he thinks the lack of freezing weather is to blame for busy hospitals.

“Part of it probably in my opinion is that because it’s milder, people are outside they're comingling more, they're not cooped up indoors for several days. These are contagious processes, so it spreads more easily,” Dr. Plewa says.

Altoona third grade teacher and mom of 2-year-old twin boys Rachael Stilp had a scare last month when both Bennett and Brock were hospitalized.

“They had had high fevers for a couple of days so we went to the Sacred Heart emergency room to get them checked out on a weekend. And one went straight to the ER he had a 104 degree fever and he was treated for bacterial pneumonia,” Rachael tells us.

It was a scare Rachael doesn't want to repeat with her family or her classroom. Dr. Plewa says parents should be excessive with the hand washing, and Rachael has taken that advice to heart.

“We've been really adamant about it at school and keeping the kids proactive with hand washing, encouraging 15 seconds with soap,” she explains.

Dr. Plewa says if your kids are breathing really fast or look like they are uncomfortable, or wheezing so heavily it’s hard for them to eat, your kids are trying to tell you they need help and should go to a hospital.

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