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Severe cases of common cold-causing rhinovirus, enterovirus seen in kids

Uptick in children developing rhinovirus infections
Uptick in children developing rhinovirus infections 02:41

CHICAGO (CBS) -- For healthy adults, rhinoviruses and enteroviruses infections are among the causes of the common cold – but for children, the symptoms can be severe.

Doctors say they have been seeing an uptick in cases now that kids are back in school. CBS 2's Charlie De Mar spoke to one father who said he saw his son struggle to breathe.

"That struggling; that shortness of breath; the (gasping) that you would possibly hear if you were having a panic attack or something like that as an adult," said Andy Beckman.

In recent weeks, each breath was a struggle for Beckman's young son, Ford Beckman. His dad took the 18-month-old to an Indiana hospital.

"Then they came back and said it was rhinovirus – and then they said rhinovirus as if I knew what that was," Beckman said.

Ford would spend the next three nights hooked up to oxygen and other equipment while battling rhinovirus — a category of viruses which is among those that cause the common cold.

Fever, congestion, sneezing, coughing, and sore throat are just some of the symptoms.

"Anytime you see your child is hooked up to machines that beep on a regular basis, you have some – that's when I start to question, 'What do you mean it's just a common cold?'" Beckman said.

Dr. Natalie Lambajian-Drummond runs her own pediatric clinic in Yorkville, Whole Child Pediatrics.

Lambajian-Drummond: "What's been interesting is that we have had kind of a potpourri of viruses."

De Mar: And you have had to admit kids to the hospital?

Lambajian-Drummond: "I have. I even had to admit one by ambulance. I don't typically call ambulances for respiratory viruses in August."

Lambajian-Drummond says young kids – especially during the era of COVID mitigations and quarantines – simply haven't built up their immune systems. In some cases, this makes the common cold or respiratory virus more severe.

"I would say the children that are under 5 are kind of the group to watch," Lambajian-Drummond said. "A lot of the younger kids we're seeing them have been having a lot more severe courses when they get these viruses."

As for Ford, he was sent home from the hospital in style. And his dad wants other parents to find comfort in his experience.

"Until it happens to you, it doesn't resonate," Beckman said. "But until you know you're not the only one, then you do feel a little scared."

A doctor at Lurie Children's Hospital said enterovirus is more common this time of year and is similar to rhinovirus, but there isn't a test to distinguish between the two. Treatment for these viruses focuses on minimizing systems and discomfort. 

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