- RSV cases have increased in the US in recent weeks, according to the CDC.
- While the disease tends to peak in November, hospitals are overwhelmed with patients.
- Three parents discussed having their young children in the hospital with RSV.
Ashleigh Steen’s 3-week-old daughter has been in a Delaware hospital with RSV since Oct. 16, when she started having trouble breathing. Because the pediatric intensive care unit and the ER were already overflowing with RSV cases, the baby, whose blood oxygen level was in the 80s (95 or higher is normal), was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit. She has been intubated and on a ventilator for six days, Steen told Insider.
“It’s by far the most stressful situation I’ve ever been in, because I’m so scared for my daughter. I know she’s getting the best possible care, it’s been hard to see such a slow improvement,” Steen said.
Steen is not alone. An increase in respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is overwhelming pediatric hospitals in the US Normally restricted to the winter months, RSV cases tend to peak in November and recede in April, says Dr. rebeca fiskpediatrician in Lenox Hill Hospital at Northwell Health in New York, he told Insider. But this wave of RSV, which began in early summer, has taken hold in recent weeks with unexpected severity, said Dr. J. Wes Ulmclinician, medical researcher, and bioinformatics expert at the Harvard Medical School Hospital System in Massachusetts.
RSV is so common in early childhood that it’s almost a rite of passage, Ulm said. But According to the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionOne or two out of every 100 children younger than 6 months will experience a serious RSV infection leading to bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the airways, or pneumonia, a lung infection. Here’s what you need to know about RSV danger signs.
when to go to the hospital
RSV typically presents as a common cold, but the younger the child, especially those under 2 years of age, the greater the chance of serious illness requiring hospitalization, Fisk said. Babies with the virus may experience sneezing, coughing, wheezing, runny nose, poor feeding and decreased appetite, with or without a fever, Fisk said.
If a baby younger than 6 months is having trouble feeding and isn’t staying hydrated (no wet diapers for eight to 12 hours), it’s a good idea to call your pediatrician first for guidance, Fisk said, but if your child has significant breathing problems, go to an emergency room.
When Alexis Ruby’s 1-week-old son began coughing and experiencing congestion, his pediatrician advised nasal suctioning and saline drops. But two days later, he wasn’t waking up to feed and seemed to have trouble breathing, Ruby said. He was rushed to Children’s Scottish Rite Hospital in Atlanta, admitted to the NICU and put on a ventilator. He tested positive for RSV.
The 3-week-old baby is still hospitalized. Ruby’s 2-year-old daughter also has RSV, but her symptoms are much less severe, so she is treated at home, which Fisk says is normal.
In older children and adults, RSV symptoms are very similar but often milder and can include headache, sore throat or tiredness, he said. Usually, these cases do not result in serious complications.
How to minimize the risk of RSV
Tara Shield’s 1-year-old son was hospitalized in mid-October at Cohen Children’s Medical Center with his second RSV infection. A severe asthmatic, he was exposed to the virus by her 3-year-old sister, whose symptoms were limited to fever and severe cough. Within 48 hours, the Wantagh, New York, resident said her son began retracting (heavy, deep breathing where ribs are visible) and severe wheezing.
Since he had been admitted to the ICU for RSV at 4 months of age, which required CPAP treatment, Cohen was very cautious this time. After consulting with his doctor and seeing no improvement in the next 12 hours, he went to the emergency room, where the boy received oxygen and back-to-back breathing treatments with albuterol for five days before returning home, where he is still being treated. recovering.
According to Fisk, a person can contract RSV multiple times. That’s why it’s important to practice good hand hygiene, cover coughs and sneezes and disinfect high-touch areas, he said. But for the highest-risk group, children under 2 years of age, it can be very difficult to prevent the spread of respiratory droplets. That’s why parents should keep sick kids home—that runny nose could be RSV. And kids should get vaccinated against COVID and the flu as soon as possible, Fisk said.
While there are no firm answers to explain the current rise in viruses such as RSV, rhinovirus, influenza and enteroviruses, Ulm said research points to a link to COVID-19. a little to study published last month in the journal Radiology found that a year after children contracted COVID-19, they exhibited a 25% reduction in the ability of their lungs to deliver oxygen into the bloodstream. Research has suggested that 75% of American children have contracted COVID-19 and, regardless of severity, may be dealing with decreased respiratory and immune capacity, making it harder to withstand lung infections like RSV, Ulm said.