(WJW) — Ohio health officials spoke Tuesday morning on a spike in pediatric RSV that started in October.

Ohio Department of Health director Bruce Vanderhoff was joined by Rustin Morse, MD, chief medical officer, Nationwide Children’s Hospital; Patty Manning-Courtney, MD, chief of staff, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Claudia Hoyen, MD, director of infection control, University Hospitals (UH) and UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Morse said that every winter, hospitals expect to see higher volumes of viruses in children, however, they are seeing exceptionally high volumes of pediatric patients early this year, including children with RSV seen in the emergency department.

Dr. Manning said it’s important for families to know what signs to look for and when to be concerned enough to keep their child home from school. She said for most children, RSV starts as a cold, a runny nose, a cough and congestion, which are all signs the child is ill and also contagious.

She explained babies have very few ways of showing us when they are in trouble.

“We want to watch three things very carefully,” she said. “How they eat and drink. Are they making wet diapers? We can watch to see how awake they are. Are they easy to wake up? And we want to watch how they breathe. If they are breathing very quickly, if they are using their muscles to breathe, their neck muscles, their stomach muscles or their rib muscles to breathe, then we are very worried and we want you to bring them to seek emergency care.”

Children with cough, congestion and fever should stay home from school or daycare to not only stop the spread of the illness but also to help your child recover more quickly, Manning explained.

Dr. Hoyen said that in her 25 years of experience with pediatric infectious diseases, she has seen spikes of RSV throughout the years and doesn’t necessarily blame the pandemic for the spike.

Dr. Manning said since seeing record numbers this year, they have needed to set up overflow clinics to help the emergency departments and have asked other providers in the hospital to come in and help out to shorten the time that families are waiting to receive care.