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Rise in respiratory illnesses amongst young children

We’re seeing an increase in severe respiratory illness in children as restrictions ease and people mix more, with cases higher than usual for this time of year and further increases expected over winter months.

Parents are encouraged to look out for symptoms of severe respiratory infection in at-risk children, including a high temperature of 37.8°C or above (fever), a dry and persistent cough, difficulty feeding, rapid or noisy breathing (wheezing).

Nicola Entwhistle, Matron Children and Young People said

“Respiratory illnesses, including colds and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are very common in young children every year.

Last winter, due to the various restrictions in place to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), there were far fewer infections in younger people. This means many will not have developed immunity and so we may see more cases this year than in a typical season. For the majority of children, these illnesses will not be serious and they will soon recover.

RSV is a very common virus and almost all children are infected with it by the time they are 2 years old. In older children and adults, RSV may cause a cough or cold. The early symptoms of bronchiolitis are similar to those of a common cold but can develop over a few days into a high temperature of 37.8°C or above (fever), a dry and persistent cough, difficulty feeding, rapid or noisy breathing. Most cases of bronchiolitis are not serious and clear up within 2 to 3 weeks.

Please remember to continue good hand hygiene and infection control measures such as regular hand washing to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses.

Any concerns you should always seek medical advice from your doctor, pharmacy or by dialling 111”.

Most cases of respiratory illness are not serious and clear up within 2 to 3 weeks, but parents should contact their GP or call NHS 111 if:

  • Their child struggles to breath.
  • Their child has taken less than half their usual amount during the last 2 or 3 feeds, or they have had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more.
  • The child has a persistent high temperature of 37.8C or above.

Some children under 2, especially those born prematurely or with a heart condition, can suffer more serious consequences from these common respiratory infections.

Find out more about the symptoms and what to do here.

Get in touch

Chorley and South Ribble Hospital

Preston Road



01257 261222

Royal Preston Hospital

Sharoe Green Lane




01772 716565

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