To find an ICU bed, a sick child from Northern California had to go to Portland, Oregon. Last week, a toddler from Oregon was airlifted to Nevada owing to a lack of available hospital beds. The offender? RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus.

According to Wendy Hasson, MD, medical director of the paediatric ICU at Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland and spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics, “These experiences are not unique and are happening around the country.” In terms of timing and the quantity of children impacted, this respiratory virus season has been exceptional.

RSV typically affects kids before their second birthday. The extremely contagious respiratory tract infection typically has cold-like symptoms, but it can also progress to life-threatening consequences, especially in young children, people with compromised immune systems, and the elderly.

The traditionally predictable disease, which typically peaks in January, has advanced its schedule, according to Hasson. Now, two months early, she is experiencing a “overwhelming increase.” In her ICU, RSV is present in about 80% of the patients. In previous years, children with the virus who were hospitalised on average were under 2 years old. Now, according to Hasson, she frequently notices children aged 3 to 5 on the ward.

The CDC released a health caution on November 4 warning the public about the rising sickness as a result of the recent spike in RSV incidence.

Because paediatricians’ offices are so full, many parents are unable to schedule a visit for a sick child. Knowing whether to monitor and wait at home or when to go to urgent care or the emergency room is crucial if you can’t do outpatient treatment. Continue reading to learn what parents need to know to cope with the recent RSV outbreak.

Learn More About Any Concerning Symptoms

Breathing, hydration level, and alertness are the three areas that parents should keep an eye on in their kids to determine if it’s okay to keep them at home or whether they need to see a doctor.

It’s critical to get medical attention if:

  • A youngster is breathing more forcefully or quickly than usual.
  • You can see the child breathing through their abdomen or pulling around their neck or ribs if you take off their clothes and watch.
  • Babies make a small noise or groan at the end of each breath.
  • Babies have fewer than three to four wet diapers per day and aren’t drinking enough.
  • Call 911 if a child is blue or purple.

RSV symptoms frequently get worse between days four and six of the infection.

Advice for Supporting Your Child at Home

According to Samira Armin, MD, a paediatrician in the Houston region, many common and overlapping symptoms of numerous viruses, including RSV, include coughs, fevers for up to 5 days, runny noses, decreased appetite, and chills. However, a fever by itself is not a reason to get help right away.

Since viruses typically aren’t responsive to antibiotics or prescription medications, doctors frequently advise home treatment, according to Armin.

She advises against giving children cough suppressants instead suggesting that they stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, and not go back to school or daycare too soon.

Anita Patel, MD, a paediatric critical care physician at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, advises parents to get ready to manage moderate RSV at home.

She advises parents to stock up on ibuprofen (for kids older than 6 months) and acetaminophen (for discomfort and fever). They should also carry a trustworthy thermometer, a humidifier, a nasal suctioning bulb with saline drops, as well as the contact information for their paediatrician, an after-hours line, and any nearby urgent care facilities.

Utilize prevention methods.

Use your expertise in sickness prevention gained from the COVID-19 pandemic to keep kids from contracting RSV or other infections during this outbreak.

Doctors advise maintaining up to date with other vaccinations, such as those for flu and COVID-19, to prevent the spread and severity of these viruses, even though there is currently no RSV vaccine authorised in this country. Encourage your kids to routinely wash their hands, cover their mouths or noses when they cough or sneeze, and wear masks in public.

Patel claims that masks “perform really well against the flu and RSV.” “A simple surgical mask has prevented me from contracting both while caring for thousands of children,” the nurse said.

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