Pediatric hospitals across the country are struggling to deal with an influx of children with severe cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The Department of Health and Human Services reported that 71% of the nation’s 40,000 pediatric hospital beds are filled, which is the highest level in the last two years.
“Not only are we seeing more viruses, we are seeing them sooner than we typically see them in cold and flu season,” Dr. Lauren Mientkiewicz, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, told ABC News.
RSV infections are common and usually cause mild symptoms, including a runny nose, coughing, sneezing, fever, and decreased appetite. However, they can cause more severe symptoms in infants and lead to other, more serious illnesses, such as bronchiolitis or pneumonia.
After watching intensive care units fill up during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, many hospitals are seeing the same thing happen again as the number of severe RSV infections among children has surged in recent months.
“I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve been at Connecticut Children’s for 25 years, and I’ve never seen this level of surge specifically for RSV coming into our hospital,” Dr. Juan Salazar, the hospital’s executive vice president, and physician-in-chief, told CNN.