Manitoba's only dedicated pediatric emergency department is seeing a large spike in patients and officials are warning that wait times are rising.

Health Sciences Centre (HSC) Winnipeg sent out a string of tweets late Tuesday afternoon stating that "Patient volumes at HSC Children’s continue to surge, with high numbers of patients presenting with cold & flu symptoms." Officials say that "several cases" of children presenting with "multiple respiratory viruses have been recorded" and a "high number of patients" have been admitted into hospital as a result.

An image in the tweet lists stats for patient volumes, showing that so far visits to the Children's ER are already up 24 per cent from October, and 46 per cent when compared to the same time last year.

The result is an increase in wait times for patients with less urgent symptoms, the hospital warns.

"Parents and guardians with children experiencing difficulty breathing, extreme fatigue and inability to consume fluids should bring their children to Children’s ED," HSC says. "If your child’s needs are less urgent, you can expect a longer wait as we care for the sickest patients first."

HSC provides a number of tools and options before deciding to take your child to the emergency department so some can potentially avoid unnecessarily long waits. That includes an online tool that helps you know when to go to a clinic or your family doctor, urgent care, or emergency.

Wait times for Winnipeg ERs can be viewed online before choosing to go to one. Early Wednesday morning showed around 20 to 25 patients in the Children's ER and wait times hovering around the five hour mark. The number of patients in the ER the evening before was double that, around 40.