Pediatric hospital beds filled at highest rate in 2 years, data shows

Pediatric hospital beds filled at highest rate in 2 years, data shows

Amid the surge, five states — Arizona, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Kentucky and Texas — continue to use 90 percent or more of pediatric hospital beds.

The health advisory warned that “the co-circulation of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza viruses, SARS-CoV-2 and others could stress the health care system this fall and winter.”

This year, the rate of RSV-related hospitalizations began to rise during late spring and continued to grow through summer and early fall. Preliminary data from October show that weekly rates of RSV-related hospitalizations among children younger than 18 years are higher than rates seen during similar weeks in recent years.

Although RSV activity appears to be declining in some places, the timing, intensity, and severity of the current RSV season are uncertain.

RSV is an infectious virus that can be spread by viral respiratory droplets transmitted by the cough or sneeze of an infected person; from direct contact with the virus, such as kissing the face of a child with RSV; and from touching surfaces, such as tables, doorknobs and crib rails, that have the virus, and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands, According to the CDC.

People infected with RSV are usually contagious for three to eight days, but some children can continue to spread the virus even after they stop showing symptoms, as long as four weeks, according to the CDC.

Among children, premature infants and young children with weakened immune systems or congenital heart or chronic lung disease are most susceptible to complications from RSV.

According to the CDC, death from RSV is rare. There are between 100 to 500 pediatric deaths and 14,000 adult deaths each year associated with RSV, and the actual number is likely higher due to undercounting.

At the same time as RSV cases are rising, positive flu tests reported by clinical laboratories to the CDC jumped from 2,083 to 7,504 in October, the data show.

What’s more, the cumulative flu hospitalization rate in the US is currently 2.9 per 100,000, the highest since the 2010-11 season, according to the CDC.

Experts told ABC News that the combination of weaker immunity to COVID and lack of exposure to other viruses, combined with close gatherings indoors, is fueling a “perfect storm.”

“Most of the problem is that there’s low population immunity and kids are crowded together, and that makes it easier for viruses like RSV to spread quickly,” John Brownstein, MD, an epidemiologist and chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital and an ABC News contributor, said. . “And due to the massive scale of the infection, when you have that higher denominator, you have a situation where some of those children will need hospital treatment. And that’s why our hospitals are thin, not only in terms of bed capacity, but also for the critical staff of those beds.”

He added: “So the combination of shortages, bed capacity and the growing viral disease is all creating an unfortunate perfect storm that we’re seeing happening all over the place right now.”

Under the new rule, hospitals within the Corewell Health East system will not allow visitors under the age of 5 to enter the buildings.

The only exceptions will be in certain circumstances, such as if a parent or sibling is seriously ill or if there is an end-of-life situation.

ABC News’ Eric Strauss, Mary Kekatos and Teddy Grant contributed to this report.

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