Why Are There So Many Children’s Hospitals Iin The US With RSV?

A common respiratory disease that can cause serious breathing issues for babies is increasing in prevalence, according to certain children’s hospitals in the United States. RSV occurrences sharply decreased two years ago as a result of the pandemic closing down businesses, daycare centres, and schools. In the summer of 2021, when limitations started to loosen, doctors saw an alarming rise in what is often a fall and winter virus.

It’s back again right now. Additionally, doctors are preparing for the likelihood that the combination of RSV, flu, and COVID-19 could strain hospitals. Dr. Juan Salazar of Connecticut Children’s Hospital, where RSV has forced patients to be moved into playrooms and other areas not typically utilised for beds, declared the situation an emergency. The institution considered utilising a field hospital from the National Guard, but has since shelved that idea.

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WHAT IS RSV?

Its name refers to the respiratory syncytial virus, which is frequently responsible for mild cold-like symptoms such a runny nose, a cough, and fever. By age 2, almost all children in the United States suffer an RSV illness.

Typically, an infected person can spread the disease for three to eight days. RSV can remain contagious for up to four weeks in infants and those with compromised immune systems. Although various potential vaccines are being tested, there is no vaccine for it.

WHO DOES IT AFFECT?

Anyone can contract RSV. However, it poses the greatest risk to children, the elderly, and other weaker people since they run the risk of developing serious lung and airway infections. RSV frequently causes up to 500 deaths and 58,000 hospitalizations in children under the age of five in the United States each year. RSV results in 14,000 fatalities and 177,000 hospitalizations per year in people 65 and older. Babies’ breathing difficulties might make it difficult for them to feed.

Dr. Melanie Kitagawa of Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, where more than 40 kids had RSV, said, “And that’s really when we start to worry.” They’re exhaling quickly and deeply. They can be seen moving their chest muscles to breathe, according to Kitagawa. These children can’t coordinate both actions at once and are having trouble swallowing a bottle since it affects their respiration.

WHY IS THERE AN INCREASE NOW?

As a result of being protected from common bugs during the pandemic lockdowns, newborns and young children are among the most vulnerable people the virus is currently affecting. After more than two years of masking, which provided protection, immune systems might not be as ready to combat the virus, according to Dr. Elizabeth Mack of Medical University of South Carolina.

According to a news release, “South Carolina is drowning in RSV,” stated Mack. This year, the spike began earlier than usual, according to her. Babies may have had some immunity to RSV because their mothers may not have had the illness while they were expecting them.

Health experts in the United States have noticed an increase in national reports of respiratory infections this month, which they attribute in part to the early flu outbreak in much of the South. According to CDC data, more than 7,000 tests performed last week resulted in RSV positivity. More than past surges, in other words.

IS THERE A TREATMENT?

Since there is no specific cure, the only option is to treat the symptoms and let the virus do its thing. To facilitate breathing, doctors may advise oral steroids or an inhaler. Patients in hospitals may get oxygen, a breathing tube, or a ventilator in critical situations.

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WHAT DO DOCTORS RECOMMEND?

By carefully washing your hands and staying at home when you’re unwell, you can stop the transmission of viruses. An injection of an antibody-based medication is occasionally recommended during RSV season to protect preterm infants and other extremely vulnerable babies.

Dr. Russell Migita of Seattle Children’s Hospital, where RSV is on the rise, advised parents to “do not hesitate” to go to an emergency room or dial 911 if they were concerned that their child was having a serious respiratory issue. Migita advised calling your usual healthcare practitioner for consultation, using telehealth, or visiting an urgent care facility for less serious medical issues.

Dr. Juanita Mora observed a family of five children in Chicago on Saturday who were all suffering from RSV, ranging in age from three to adolescence. She is urging everyone to get a flu vaccination and a COVID-19 booster because she is worried about coming winter.