Virus targeting infants now being found in children over 5
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
FORT MYERS - A virus known for causing severe diarrhea in infants and young children is now being diagnosed in children over five - a rare trend that is increasing, according to doctors in southwest Florida.
Five-year-old Gregory is at home resting recovering from rotavirus, which he was vaccinated against when he was an infant.
"When they said rotavirus the first thing I thought of was 'Wait I thought we were vaccinated against rotavirus," said Katie Swingle.
Swingle thought her son had the flu. But after two days he showed no signs of getting better.
"I think the scariest symptom he had," she said, "was certainly the diarrhea , uncontrollable. That was frightening to both of us."
Swingle took Gregory to the hospital where he was diagnosed with rotavirus - a gastrointestinal bug that causes vomiting and diarrhea . Historically, the virus affects children under five. But doctors are now seeing older children being affected.
"We've been seeing it more in five years and older," said Dr. Piere Loredo with Lee Physicians Group. "And thats a little bit new and rare for us."
Dr. Loredo says he, and the CDC, have seen a spike in children over five being diagnosed. This time last year, Loredo says he might have seen one child over five with the bug. In the last two weeks he's treated seven.
"There is an exponential jump," said Loredo. "Especially last month in the number of rotavirus cases."
Loredo doesn't know what's causing the increase. He says it could be a new strand of the virus or that the vaccines could be wearing off.
"It's possible it's one of the old strands that was covered by the vaccine," said Loredo, "but the immunity has faded on those vaccines. At this point we really don't know."
According to Swingle, doctors told her this is a new, more aggressive strand. On the day she took her son to the emergency room, she says doctors told her they were treating seven other children.
Swingle now worries about the virus spreading in pre-school classrooms.
"You always hear about the flu," said Swingle. "But sometimes, as serious as rotavirus is, it's not even on your radar. Especially for older children."