Cases of COVID-like respiratory virus rising among Florida children

Hope Cantor’s two-and-a-half-year-old child, Luca, is one of the many kids who this year got hit with RSV.

"Just a high fever and a lot of coughing. We thought we were going to have to do an emergency room visit."

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is a common respiratory illness in young children with symptoms similar to COVID-19. 

"We tested for COVID, the flu, and RSV and it wound up being RSV but definitely worried about COVID," said Cantor.

Now RSV is on the rise, particularly in Florida, which has a longer RSV season due to the climate. According to the Florida Department of Health, Central Florida has had more outbreaks of RSV in the last six weeks than any other region in the state.

Doctors believe it peaked earlier this year as the masks from COVID came off. 

"That allowed a lot of unprotected children to suddenly get hit with RSV," said pediatric pulmonologist Dr. Akinyemi Ajayi.

Doctors say to look out for coughing, wheezing, fever, and shortness of breath. If your child has any of those symptoms, get them tested for RSV, COVID, and the flu. Testing centers can test for all three with a single swab.

"It’s a real whammy right now," said Dr. Ajayi.

"RSV I feel like ended up being a lot nastier than I expected so I don’t know if COVID would have been easier for him just because of his age but yeah, definitely scary thinking about that," said Cantor.

Watch FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.