Children’s hospitals in CT hit by virus as flu hits

Children’s hospitals in CT hit by virus as flu hits

“There’s a lot of data that suggests we’re going to see a fairly severe increase in influenza,” said Dr. Matthew Bizzarro, medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit at Yale Children’s Hospital New Haven. “Given how stretched our bed capacity and staffing is right now, if we were to start seeing influenza in numbers similar to what we’re seeing RSV, it would be incredibly challenging.”

The two main children’s hospitals in Connecticut have been flooded in recent weeks with cases of RSV, rhinovirus, influenza and other diseases. In mid-October, Dr. Juan Salazar, chief physician at Connecticut Children’s, said the hospital was seeing a volume of patients he had never seen before, describing the rush as “the COVID of pediatrics.”

Since then, Connecticut Children’s has become a symbol of the national trend of viral infections among children, drawing media attention, including CNN, PBS, The Wall Street Journal Y the atlantic. At one point, the hospital opened a makeshift unit to treat excess patients, as officials wondered aloud if the National Guard would eventually be needed to provide additional resources.

Dr. Ian Michelow, chief of pediatric infectious diseases and immunology at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, said Tuesday that the hospital has not made a final decision on whether to apply for the Watch.

“It’s still extremely busy, the emergency department still has a large number of people, and in many cases every day we have children waiting for beds in the main hospital because we can’t fit them all on the main floors.” Michaelow said. “We are monitoring the situation literally on a daily basis.”

Similarly, Bizzarro said the situation at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital has not improved significantly in recent weeks. Currently, he said, the hospital is treating 46 RSV patients, about a quarter of whom require intensive care.

“Cases of viral infections continue to rise, continue to require hospitalization of pediatric patients in large numbers, and continue to be predominantly caused by RSV,” Bizzarro said. “We are at 100 percent capacity, and that has been the norm.”

according to a online public tracker, Yale Medicine has seen RSV cases rise each week since mid-September, culminating in 210 new cases the last week of October, by far the most of any week this year. RSV, a common respiratory virus that usually spreads in the winter but arrived earlier this year, is often more serious in children under 5 years of age.

Bizzarro said Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital this week opened additional space for sick children on a floor normally used for other purposes and has been in close contact with the Department of Public Health and the Connecticut Hospital Association on how to share better resources and experience.

While RSV has been the main culprit in the increase in new patients at Connecticut children’s hospitals, other illnesses, such as rhinovirus and the flu, have also contributed. Nationally, the US has seen its highest level of flu transmission in a decade for this time of year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Michelow said he has been alarmed to see the flu making its way up the East Coast, reaching New York City and now Connecticut, while hospitals continue to overflow with RSV patients.

“Last week I predicted that it would hit us next week, and literally yesterday we had 20 positive cases of influenza,” Michelow said Tuesday. “It’s really remarkable how you can see him march across the country.”

Unlike COVID-19, which does not typically cause serious illness in children, other respiratory viruses like RSV can be particularly dangerous for young children, sometimes resulting in hospitalization or even intensive care. Neither Connecticut Children’s Hospital nor Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital have recorded RSV-related deaths this year, officials said.

Although it’s not entirely clear why respiratory viruses have spread much earlier and faster than usual, experts say it may be the result of a population lacking immunity after two years of mask-wearing and social distancing.

“Many of these young children, babies who were born during COVID and were kept relatively isolated and therefore not exposed to some of these viruses that they would normally be exposed to in the first year of life, are now seeing them for the first time. with no pre-existing antibodies,” Bizzarro said.

As different viruses increase, officials at the local and national levels have urged parents to vaccinate their children against the flu, in hopes of mitigating the recent wave of illness. Less flu, they say, means one less thing to worry about at local hospitals.

“As the flu season begins to progress, vaccination against the flu will be critical,” Bizzarro said. “Parents need to be really cognizant of the fact that we’re expecting a very serious flu season, and with hospitals already so full, keeping children out of the hospital is absolutely critical to their own health and the health of others. the rest”. the children we currently have to care for.

alex.putterman@hearstmediact.com.

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