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COVID: Masks, Social Distancing Slowed Spread Of Common Childhood Illnesses

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) - All of the social distancing, handwashing and masking not only slowed down the prevalence of COVID-19 in kids, but also slowed down other childhood illnesses.

Just ask Alicia Anderson, mother of 13-month-old identical twins Jackson and Maddox.

"They did get their first fever a couple months back and normally, it would've happened a lot earlier, so it's somewhat of just getting that immunity boost back," she told KPIX5.

While the flus, rhinovirus and respiratory syncytial viruses (RSV) that are the hallmark of childhood winter petered out during the pandemic, they are making a most unusual summertime return.

"We're starting to just see a few cases of RSV. It still hasn't come close to what we see on the hospital side during a standard winter - and we see almost zero over the course of this winter. That's what's so fascinating. We saw nothing over the course of the winter. Normally by now, RSV would've gone away, but because of the pandemic we're just starting to see an uptick," said Dr. Alan Schroeder, pediatric critical care physician at Stanford.

Nadim Hossan's kids Liam and Stella had an illness free winter, too but he wonders at what cost.

"They were healthy, I mean, but obviously stuck indoors. Schools were not cooperating obviously. It was hard on them, but health wise it was great," he told KPIX5.

Dr. Schroeder hopes that the pandemic has changed attitudes about illness and that might translate to fewer viruses of all stripes spreading in the future. "I think people are going to be better about not sending their kids to daycare and school when they're sick."

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