WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Hospitals are overwhelmed with patients as cases of RSV have increased in the U.S., according to the CDC.
- RSV, which tends to peak in November, has surged in children in recent weeks.
- RSV causes a mild illness, but can also lead to difficulty in breathing, and dehydration in a sick child.
Respiratory illnesses in children are overwhelming hospitals across the United States right now.
The high numbers of respiratory illnesses in kids has put a strain on hospitals that are already preparing for the typical wintertime surge of patients ill from viruses. Hospitals are also battling incoming cases of COVID, rhinoviruses and the flu year-round.
Physicians across the country have reported seeing more cases of the respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, in recent weeks.
RSV is a common respiratory virus among children that produces common cold symptoms.
For most, a mild case of RSV lasts about two weeks. But some infants, young children and older adults, especially those with pre-existing health conditions, may suffer from more severe cases, leading to hospitalization, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Data from the CDC show that cases of RSV detected by PCR tests have tripled in the last two months.
Case numbers have already reached peak levels from 2021, according to CDC data.
Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., neared capacity this week as respiratory illness cases spiked. Children’s Hospital Colorado has reportedly been filling up with sick kids, too.
Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford is considering building a field hospital outside the main facility if case numbers continue to grow, Juan Salazar, the physician-in-chief, told the Wall Street Journal.
In pre-pandemic years, RSV would make its rounds in the fall and winter before going away in the summer, according to the Journal. COVID shifted the pattern, causing a dip in RSV as the coronavirus bullied its way through the population.
But this year, RSV and other respiratory illnesses lingered throughout the summer and now into early fall.
“RSV admissions have skyrocketed at Connecticut Children’s. October has been like never before for this virus,” Monica Buchanan, senior director at Connecticut Children’s Hospital, told CNN.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time, I’ve been at Connecticut Children’s for 25 years, and I have never seen this level of surge — specifically of RSV — coming into our hospital,” Salazar added.
“I think for the next four to eight weeks, we just have to be careful.”
Officials recommend caregivers vaccinate their children for influenza to protect against a rise in those cases later this winter.
Source: The Hill