Virginia hospitals see unusual increase in RSV cases among children

Virginia News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As if parents didn’t have enough to worry about with the Delta variant and uptick in pediatric COVID-19 cases, area hospitals are reporting a significant rise in a respiratory virus known as RSV. It’s putting some central Virginia children in the ICU.

RSV — or Respiratory Syncytial Virus — is not new, but doctors don’t usually see it until the winter months. Yet, Dr. Tiffany Kimbrough, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU says cases of RSV are surging this summer.

“We are having kids that are getting admitted to the hospital and some that are needing ICU level of care to support their breathing,” she said.

Dr. Kimbrough says the Children’s Hospital is mimicking trends across the county.

“So we are seeing increase in cases upwards of 10 percent of all of our kids,” said Dr. Kimbrough.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently put out an emergency alert about a spike in cases in the Southern United States. A Texas mother, Isabel Vasquez, told one of WFXR’s sister stations her children got RSV. She said for her children, it was worse than when they had COVID-19.

“They were wheezing, coughing. It was a really bad cough,” Vasquez said.

RSV affects the lungs and breathing passages. For most people, it’s like the common cold. Symptoms can include a runny nose, coughing, sneezing, headache, fever, and wheezing.

However, for young children, especially those under the age of two, it can be serious if it gets into the lower lungs.

“Sometimes we need to use oxygen. Sometimes they even end up on a breathing support system like a ventilator,” Dr. Kimbrough said.

According to Dr. Kimbrough, the sudden summer spike in RSV is likely due to the coronavirus. Last winter, there were stay at home advisories and lots of masking.

“Folks are starting to gather again, kids are doing summer camps,” she told WFXR’s sister station.

The only way to tell the difference between RSV and COVID is through a nasal swab test. The best way to prevent the virus is frequent hand washing, covering your mouth when you cough and keeping children home from camp, class, or daycare, if they’re not well.

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