By Caroline Vandergriff

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Cases of a common respiratory illness typically only seen during the winter are now spiking in North Texas.

“This has been a very unusual summer for us,” said Dr. Sheree Guimont, a pediatrician at MD Kids Pediatrics.

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RSV can be a serious – even fatal – concern, especially for very young children.

Outbreaks of the virus usually begin in October and last through March, but COVID-19 precautions may have delayed the normal RSV season.

“This virus has had a moment to kind of break loose and is causing its normal havoc now,” Dr. Guimont said.

Last week, Children’s Health in Dallas saw 262 cases of the virus.

Cook Children’s in Fort Worth had 204 RSV patients, which is nearing peak winter numbers in previous years.

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“Now that people are feeling more comfortable taking their masks off, we’re seeing RSV really surge back,” said Dr. Gary Floyd, a pediatrician and American Academy of Pediatrics board member.

Doctors say RSV vases were virtually non-existent during the last season, which was an unintended but positive consequence of the pandemic.

“We were masked, we were socially distanced,” said Dr. Dawn D. Johnson, medical director of Children’s Health Primary Care Clinic. “Our children were not out and about in public as much and bringing the virus home. We were disinfecting. All of those things that prevent respiratory illnesses, we were doing them as a city and as a nation.”

A new CDC report also credits those measures for bringing both flu and RSV cases to historic lows in 2020.

It’s not clear yet why the flu still isn’t very prevalent, but RSV infections began to increase in April.

“We anticipate that as things continue to open more, we will see more respiratory illnesses,” Dr. Johnson said.

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Doctors say the data shows turning back to some COVID-19 prevention efforts could help stop the RSV summer surge from getting worse.

Caroline Vandergriff