The rise in respiratory illnesses among children is beginning to put a strain on hospitals.
In particular, hospitals are seeing increasing cases of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, a common cold virus that is associated with severe illness in young children and the elderly. According to the latest real-time surveillance data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases are increasing in many US regions, with some already approaching seasonal peak levels.
Surveillance data collected by the CDC show this clearly Rise in RSV Nationwide in recent weeks, cases detected by PCR tests have tripled in the past two months, approaching last year’s peak. CDC’s surveillance program captures data from 75 counties representing 9% of the total US population.
“RSV Addiction Rises in Connecticut Children’s. October is unprecedented for this virus,” said Monica M. Buchanan told CNN.
Buchanan said hospital leaders have met with the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the National Guard to begin a logistical review of placing a mobile field hospital on the Front Lawn, and additional work is planned for Thursday to finalize and approve.
Connecticut Children’s executive vice president and physician-in-chief Dr. Juan Salazar told CNN’s Kate Bolduan that beds are at capacity and children are coming to the hospital at an “unprecedented” rate: more than 100 have contracted the respiratory syncytial virus. In the last 10 days, including many who require intensive care and oxygen therapy.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, I’ve been at Connecticut Children’s for 25 years, and I’ve never seen an outbreak of this magnitude — especially RSV — come into our hospital,” he said.
Salazar said the hospital has yet to expand into a field tent, “but we have to be prepared in case the numbers continue to increase. So if RSV increases further and the flu hits us on the back of it … our hospital will need additional capacity.
The increase in cases comes earlier in the year than doctors usually expect.
“We had a kind of seasonality to different viruses,” said Dr. Thomas Murray, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and assistant professor at Yale University School of Medicine. CNN affiliate WFSB. “As it is now, respiratory syncytial virus or RSV will come in December and it will go away followed by the flu and it will go away and the other. What happened with Covid is now they are all going around at the same time.
In most parts of the United States, RSV is typically transmitted during the fall, winter, and spring, but the timing and intensity of the RSV season in a given community varies from year to year.
In 2021, RSV peaked in the summer, so this year’s fall and winter surge represents a return to cyclical patterns seen in pre-pandemic years, according to a statement from CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund.
The change comes as other respiratory viruses — Covid-19, rhinoviruses, enteroviruses and the flu-causing coronavirus — are causing more concern.
Salazar said the U.S. is coming out of the Covid era, when kids had relatively little exposure to viruses — and it’s hitting them now.
“For the next four to eight weeks, I think we have to be careful,” Salazar said, adding that getting vaccinated against influenza now could help control the rising fever months later.
“Get your kids the flu shot,” she said. “It’s time you did.”
The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get the flu shot.
Most of the U.S. has reported an early increase in seasonal flu activity, with the Southeast and South-Central regions of the country experiencing the highest rates of flu, according to the CDC.
“Here we are in mid-October — not mid-November — and we’re already seeing widespread cases of influenza across the country, even hospitalized influenza patients,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt. University Medical Center and medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, told CNN.