In Boston, RSV cases in kids creating a ‘capacity disaster’ for one major hospital – Fox News

One of the nation’s top hospitals announced on Thursday, Nov. 10, that it is at capacity and is reducing elective surgeries due to an unusually high number of patients with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Another nearby hospital is having similar issues.

Massachusetts General for Children, located in Boston, said that in the first 10 days of November there have been more than 1,000 reported cases of RSV. In the entire month of October, there were about 2,000 reported cases of RSV. 

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RSV is causing a “capacity disaster,” Brian Cummings, the medical director of the department of pediatrics at Massachusetts General for Children, said in a news conference on Thursday afternoon, as Boston 25 News reported.

Cummings said that this year’s RSV cases are about “20% to 60% higher” than those of a typical fall — and that winter, not fall, is usually the hardest-hit season for RSV. 

Typical symptoms of RSV include stuffy nose, congestion, cough and fever. 

Typical symptoms of RSV include stuffy nose, congestion, cough and fever.  (iStock)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that nearly every child has contracted RSV by the time they turn two years old, and most cases of it are mild. Typical symptoms of RSV include stuffy nose, congestion, cough and fever. 

Some children who contract RSV require hospitalization. 

“Even if just 10% need hospitalization, it creates a lot of stress on health care facilities,” said Cummings during the press conference on Thursday. “We’ve had over 250 hospitalizations for RSV alone on top of other circulating viruses.”

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Cummings said RSV is causing “very severe respiratory illness in young children,” which is creating breathing difficulties or exacerbating asthma. 

He added that there are no pediatric ICU beds currently available at the hospital and that there are “seven patients that are outside the ICU that would normally be transferred into the ICU.” 

A mom checks her sick daughter's throat. RSV "can cause inflammation in the lungs. It can cause infection in the lungs like pneumonia."

A mom checks her sick daughter’s throat. RSV “can cause inflammation in the lungs. It can cause infection in the lungs like pneumonia.” (iStock)

Dr. Janette Neshewiat, a Fox News medical contributor based in New York City, recently told Fox News Digital of RSV, “This is a virus that can cause inflammation in the lungs. It can cause infection in the lungs like pneumonia.”

“The younger you are when infected, the more likely you are to have a more acute presentation.”

She added, “And what we’re seeing now is it’s causing about 60,000 hospitalizations in children every year. For every three children [who] are hospitalized with COVID, we’re seeing up to 30 hospitalized with RSV.”

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The number of children with respiratory illnesses has “ballooned through the entire month of October,” said Cummings — which has “created enormous stress on pediatric health care.” 

There are no pediatric ICU beds currently available at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children in Boston. 

There are no pediatric ICU beds currently available at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children in Boston.  (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

As a result, some non-emergency surgeries are being delayed to free up doctors and hospital space for emergency treatment. 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many children who would have contracted RSV did not, as people were staying home and doing other mitigation efforts, said Cummings.

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“What’s happened in the last two years with COVID is that a lot of the pandemic mitigations have disrupted the normal viral transmission,” he said. 

“A lot of RSV was not being spread in the previous two years.”

“If at any point it looks like your baby is not breathing well at all, just bring them right to an emergency room.”

“Now that it’s circulating a little more, typically there are many more people susceptible to infection. The younger you are when you get infected, the more likely you are to have a more acute presentation,” Cummings said on Thursday.

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He explained that “the youngest patients are at the highest risk of needing hospitalization,” particularly those under the age of one — and that these hospital stays are usually brief. 

Most RSV cases can be treated at home with fluids, rest and fever control, but some cases do need to be treated at a hospital. 

Most RSV cases can be treated at home with fluids, rest and fever control, but some cases do need to be treated at a hospital.  (iStock)

Boston Children’s Hospital is also experiencing similar capacity issues as Massachusetts General for Children. 

“Boston Children’s has been at or overcapacity on average for nearly six weeks due to RSV, seasonal illnesses and the ongoing behavioral health crisis,” the hospital said in a statement cited by Boston 25 News. 

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“We anticipate the numbers will continue to climb as we shift into the winter months, so we are using alternative care spaces when necessary. These are spaces we have used many times before,” the hospital also said. 

Any serious breathing problems need immediate evaluation, doctors say.

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“If your child starts developing respiratory distress, breathing faster than usual, that belly going in and out with every breath, the skin between their ribs being sucked in with every breath — that’s when they need to be seen by a provider as soon as possible,” Dr. Laura Romano of Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, told Fox News recently.

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“Take them to an urgent care. Take them to an emergency room,” she added. 

“If at any point it looks like your baby is not breathing well at all, just bring them right to an emergency room.”