It’s all over the news that children’s hospitals across the country are reaching 75-80% capacity for RSV cases. RSV Respiratory Syncytial Virus is a respiratory virus that affects nearly 100% of babies by the age of 2. RSV season is typically November through April, but hospitals across the country are reaching levels now that are typical of December.
RSV at Akron Children’s Hospital and Cleveland University Hospitals
“In the last three weeks, it has really, really taken over,” said Dr. Claudia Hoyen from Cleveland’s University Hospital. University Hospitals officials said the pediatric intensive care unit treated about 40 cases of RSV so far this month, with 46% under the age of 5 and 28% school-age children.
My sister took her 5-year-old to Akron Children’s ER for asthma-related breathing problems earlier this week, where she waited over 3 hours to be seen. She could not get her son seen at any local Akron Children’s pediatric offices in the two days following. Akron Children’s Hospital has seen an uptake in RSV cases, with over 80 RSV cases last week alone and hospital admissions at the level typical of December.
“After dramatic COVID-related reductions in 2020 and 2021, we expect the 2022-23 season to be harsher than usual. Each year’s RSV gives some background immunity for the next year. The mild 2020 and 2021 seasons have led to this,” said Akron Children’s Hospital Chief Academic Officer and Chair of Pediatric Research Dr. Michael Forbes.
RSV symptoms generally start like a common cold and progress into:
- Persistent coughing and/or wheezing
- Rapid, difficult, and/or gasping breaths
- Blue color on the lips, mouth, and/or under fingernails
- High fever
- Extreme fatigue
- Difficulty feeding
When to go to the doctor for RSV
Your baby may be sick and you are wondering when to go to the doctor for RSV. If your baby exhibits any of the following symptoms, you need to seek medical care immediately:
- Coughing or wheezing that doesn’t stop
- Troubled or fast breathing
- Nostrils that are spread-out and/or caved-in chest when they are trying to breathe
- Mouth or fingernails that are bluish in color
- Fever – especially if it is over 100°F for babies under 3 months old
If your child has milder RSV symptoms, it should run its course. However, do your part so that you don’t spread RSV to those at higher risk, like those that were born premature.
How to prevent RSV
As a mom, I try to keep my family healthy by preventative measures. Our #1 means of fighting germs is by washing our hands all the time. I also keep toys, door handles, light switches, cell phones, keys, steering wheels, etc, wiped down with sanitizer wipes. Germs can last for hours on such common surfaces. There is no cure for RSV, so the only help is preventative.
How to Prevent RSV
- Wash your hands and your child’s hands often
- Wash your child’s bedding, blankets, sheets, coats, etc to be free from RSV germs
- Wash your child’s toys, changing table, and other crib items
- Keep your child home if he is sick to prevent the spread of RSV
- Have in-home nanny or childcare instead of group childcare
- Talk to your doctor about ways to prevent RSV
More on RSV
If your child is a preemie, they are at a higher risk for RSV; please take extra measures to protect them from RSV. RSV is the leading cause of hospitalization for babies in their first year of life, with 125,000 annually, with up to 400 deaths per year. The risk is higher for preemies with premature lungs as RSV infection develops in the airways. Preemies have fewer antibodies to fight.
Dr. Michael Forbes of Akron Children’s Hospital stated, “After dramatic COVID-related reductions in 2020 and 2021, we expect the 2022-23 season to be harsher than usual. Each year’s RSV gives some background immunity for the next year. The mild 2020 and 2021 seasons have led to this.” This goes to show that taking extra precautions as we have during COVID to protect from getting COVID can also help prevent other viruses, like RSV, but it can also cause an increased risk since our babies haven’t been able to obtain immunity either – it’s a double-edged sword.
RSV and Child Care
Nearly 82% of kids in the USA between the ages of 6 weeks – 6 years old attend some child care. During this time, they are exposed to all sorts of germs! It’s like a germ love fest at childcare facilities, with kids sharing toys, tables, high chairs, and just being close together all day long. What can I mom do to protect their children from all the germs? My kids were not in childcare; however, they did go to the church nursery, Eagles Nest at the grocery store, and preschool. Besides wiping down toys at your church, sending in extra antibacterial wipes to preschool, and teaching young kids to wash their hands, there isn’t much control you have at these childcare facilities.
During the RSV season and when they were under 3 months old, I kept my babies home most of the time, and did not pass them all around at church or socially. I required everyone to wash their hands before touching my babies and not at all if they were sick. You can never be too cautious about a virus that can not be treated.
If your life situation requires your babies and young children to be in a child-care setting, consider at-home caregiving instead. I had never thought of this until I learned about this and other RSV tips and tricks on the RSVProtection.com. If possible, at home child care would be ideal, especially for babies born prematurely. Talk to your child’s doctor about other ways to protect your child during RSV season.