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RSV is spreading at unusually high levels and crushing children's hospitals

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CNN

When Amber Sizemore and her family went out of state to celebrate her birthday last week, she had hoped her toddler daughter Raegan would try swimming. However, the normally energetic and adventurous 15-month-old baby was not herself on Saturday.

“He hated it and normally likes water,” Sizemore said.

On Sunday, the little girl was “coughing like crazy” as the family returned to Ohio.

“He coughed so much he vomited,” Sizemore said. Raegan also stopped eating and had a fever.

When Tylenol didn’t help, Sizemore took him to emergency care and told them that RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, a cold-like virus, was circulating in Raegan’s day care, where Sizemore also worked.

The test came back positive, and Raegan’s vital signs prompted emergency care workers to tell Sizemore to take her daughter to the hospital.

His mother said that the staff at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland knew they had to accept Raegan as soon as they saw his vitals. He needed oxygen.

“They’ve been very well behaved and taken care of here, but the scariest part is I could have let him cough if I hadn’t known beforehand that he had been exposed to RSV,” Sizemore said. “I’m glad I didn’t wait.”

Some doctors tell CNN that there is an “unprecedented” increase in RSV cases among children in the United States.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not track hospitalizations or deaths from RSV as it does with the flu, but said on Thursday there has been an increase in RSV cases in many parts of the country.

Several children’s hospitals told CNN they were “overwhelmed” with patients at a time of year when the increase in RSV patients was unusual.

with RSV fluctuation, Owned by UH Rainbow Babies He had so many patients that he lingered for a few days in early October, meaning he wouldn’t be able to get emergency admission from the outside. Now it’s getting sick again, but still full of RSV cases.

There has been such a dramatic increase in cases in Connecticut that Children’s Hospital of Connecticut is coordinating with the governor and public health commissioner to decide whether to bring in the National Guard to expand its capacity to care for these young patients.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’ve been Children of Connecticut for 25 years, and I’ve never seen such an increase in coming to our hospital specifically for RSV,” said Dr. Juan Salazar to CNN.

In Texas, where RSV cases usually increase in December or January, the emergency room and emergency services at Cook Children’s in Fort Worth are seeing a significant number of RSV cases. Hospital spokeswoman Kim Brown said nearly half of the intensive care unit was filled with RSV cases; Between October 2 and 8, Cook Children’s had 210 cases of RSV; a week later, there were 288.

Jeff and Zoey Green’s 4-month-old child, Lindy, was admitted to Cook on Sunday.

At the hospital, Lindy’s fever was so high at one point that they said they used ice packs to cool her down.

“I don’t know how, but she slept with ice packs on her,” said Zoey Green, holding an exhausted Lindy in the hospital. She said they tried to keep her hydrated so she wouldn’t have to go back to the IV.

“We definitely want it to be better.”

D., an infection prevention specialist at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Mallory Davis is also seeing an early rise.

“We are very full and our censuses are pretty high as we try to figure out how to accommodate all the sick children in the community,” he said.

An infectious disease specialist and associate professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Dr. Kevin Messacar said Colorado Children’s Hospital has seen an early increase in RSV hospitalizations and is starting to see the first few cases of flu of the season.

“As children return to school, we are seeing increased patient volumes since late summer, which started with rhinoviruses and enteroviruses and are now driven by RSV and parainfluenza,” he said. “As the flu season, which seems to be an early start, is fast approaching, we are concerned about the continued increase in the number of sick children who need to be hospitalized.”

Employees at UH Rainbow Babies hope things don’t get any worse. Assistant medical director in pediatric infection control, Dr. “So I hope we’re reaching the top right now, because if we’re not, then it’s down to the bottom of hell,” said Amy Edwards.

Edwards said cases of RSV can fill hospitals even during normal seasons, as there isn’t much treatment and severe cases may require several days of supportive care.

Sick kids “need that oxygen boost, so they can’t be at home,” she said.

Experts think that US cases may increase due to the stage of the Covid-19 pandemic we are in.

When everyone stayed at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in 2020 and 2021, it seemed to have changed the typical RSV season. Case numbers were low and this created an “immune gap”.

Children who would normally get the virus in those years are now getting it.

The CDC says most children will get RSV at some point before they are 2 years old. This is a highly contagious virus that usually does not cause serious illness, except in adults who are elderly, with chronic heart or lung disease, or weakened immune systems. in some infants and children

There is no specific treatment or vaccine for RSV. Symptoms usually last a week or two and resolve with plenty of fluids and rest.

But for some children, it can be a much more serious illness. The CDC says that RSV can be especially dangerous for premature births, newborns, children with weakened immune systems or neuromuscular conditions, and children under 2 years of age with chronic lung and heart conditions.

RSV can develop into bronchiolitis or pneumonia, where the small airways can become inflamed and blocked. A child may need to stay in the hospital so they can get extra oxygen or even mechanical ventilation to help them breathe.

An infected person can pass RSV through coughing or sneezing. If respiratory droplets land on a surface such as a doorknob or table and someone else touches it and then touches their face, they can become ill.

RSV symptoms

  • RSV is a common virus, but it can cause serious illness, especially in young infants and older adults. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms may appear in stages rather than suddenly.
  • Symptoms include:
  • runny nose
  • decreased appetite
  • coughing and sneezing
  • Fire
  • grunt
  • According to the CDC, “In very young infants with RSV, the only symptoms may be irritability, decreased activity, and breathing difficulties.”
  • It’s often such a mild illness that adults often don’t realize they have it or think it’s nothing more than a cold or allergies and interact with others.

    “It’s not a grueling virus like the flu or Covid, so you feel really good,” Edwards said. “And then what happens is your neighbor has a beautiful baby and you bring a casserole and kiss that little baby because it feels good. You don’t feel sick. And unfortunately, you pass it on to them and sometimes they end up in the hospital.”

    Older siblings can also pass the virus to younger ones.

    “Babies drool on toys, each other, and everything else, so daytime cares too,” Edwards said.

    If your child is coughing or is lethargic or doesn’t seem to be themselves, it’s a good idea to take him to the pediatrician. At the doctor’s office, tests will be done to see if it’s RSV, flu, Covid-19 or strep.

    Pediatricians say a trip to the emergency room may be necessary if a baby is dehydrated; if they have difficult, labored, shallow or rapid breathing; if they have a high fever or bluish skin; or if it becomes unresponsive. The CDC says most people improve with supportive care and can usually go home after a few days.

    Doctors say the best way to prevent RSV infections is to teach children to cough and sneeze with a tissue or elbows instead of their hands. Also, try to keep frequently touched surfaces clean.

    “The most important thing we can do to keep ourselves and others safe is hand hygiene,” said Davis, of the children’s hospital in Grand Rapids. He tells people never to touch their faces unless they have recently washed their hands.

    When children or adults are sick, they only need to do one thing, “Stay home when you’re sick so you don’t spread the respiratory illness you have,” she said.

    Sizemore, whose daughter is still in the hospital with RSV but is recovering, also advises people to take the virus seriously.

    “I want other parents to know that they shouldn’t watch their child’s cough lightly and take the symptoms seriously,” she said. “This would have been much worse if we hadn’t gotten help from Raegan.”

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