SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Doctors are urging people to take extra caution this holiday weekend as hospitals across the country continue to be overwhelmed with RSV. The respiratory virus has caused states like Oregon to declare a state of emergency.
Pediatricians are calling on the Biden Administration to do the same nationally.
Things are getting worse at children’s hospitals, with ICU beds filling up. Combine that with an increase in flu and COVID cases, and the adult ICUs are also near capacity.
For weeks, parents have heard the warnings about RSV cases sweeping the nation. Infectious disease expert at UCSF Dr. Peter Chin-Hong says things are also worsening here.
The Pediatric ICU at Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco is now at 97% occupancy.
“They’ve erected a tent for overflow in the pediatric hospital so many pediatricians this is their March of 2020, mainly because there isn’t a lot of capacity in the pediatric hospitals in general,” Chin-Hong said.
The doctor says a rise in flu and covid cases are also filling up the adult ICU, which sits at a 95% occupancy rate. Chin-Hong described what patients with the most serious cases undergo.
“Most kids, it’s just really removing secretions, giving respiratory support, maybe a breathing tube for the most serious and rehydration,” he said.
At Stanford University’s Packard Children’s Hospital, there seems to be fewer cases.
Dr. David Cornfield says there seems to be more children struggling with RSV now because of the pandemic. Those three years old and younger getting the respiratory virus for the first time.
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“We’ve had now three years of isolation so many of the kids who would have ordinarily been infected with RSV did not see that infection and we also know that kids infected with RSV tend to be more severally infected during their first infection,” Cornfield said.
He says the vast majority of children get through their symptoms without needing to go to the hospital.
Both health experts recommend parents to social distance during the holidays, wear masks and take advantage of vaccines.
Though there isn’t much for treatment and no approved vaccine for RSV right now, Dr. Chin-Hong says a vaccine is in development by Pfizer. He expects it will be available by next year