Delta Variant, R.S.V. Infections Rising Among Children
Health officials have expressed concern over a simultaneous increase in Delta infections and cases of a respiratory virus known as respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, a highly contagious influenza-like illness, which is generally more likely to affect children and the elderly.
RSV cases have increased steadily since early June, with an even larger spike in the past month, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. RSV, which can cause symptoms like a runny nose, cough, sneezing, and fever, normally begins to spread in the fall, making this summer peak unusual.
In a series of messages on Twitter, Dr Heather Haq, a pediatrician at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, described an increase in hospitalizations for coronavirus and RSV. Dr Haq is also the Chief Medical Officer of the International Pediatric AIDS Initiative at Baylor College of Medicine at Texas Children’s Hospital.
“After several months of zero or few pediatric cases of Covid, we are seeing infants, children and adolescents with Covid returning to hospital, more and more each day,” she wrote, adding that patients ranged from 2 weeks to 17 years. years, including some with Covid pneumonia.
“We are at the start of a huge wave of Covid,” wrote Dr Haq, who could not be reached for comment on Sunday. “We now have winter-level patient volumes of critically ill infants / toddlers with RSV, and I’m concerned that we are running out of beds and staff to handle the skyrocketing. “
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RSV cases in Texas began to increase in early June and appeared to peak in mid-July, according to data from the state’s health department.
Florida also saw a similar spike in RSV cases, where infections “were higher than seen at this time in recent years,” according to a surveillance report for the virus.
In Louisiana, where cases have jumped 244% in the past two weeks, Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge was nearing capacity on Friday, CNN reported.
“You start with the pandemic for the last 18 months, then the RSV for the last two months. It seems like it’s one thing after another that keeps our teams very busy, ”Hospital President Dr Trey Dunbar told the network.
In Oklahoma, which has also seen a spike in RSV cases, hospital beds are scarce.
“We’re just asking everyone to do what they can to help a tense hospital situation,” an Oklahoma pediatric clinic said in a Facebook post last week.
Dr Cameron Mantor, chief medical officer at the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital at OU Health, told The Oklahoman that over the past two months, RSV cases in the state have been “exponentially off the charts ”.
“RSV is a real problem right now,” he told the newspaper. “What will happen if we have an increase in pediatric Covid cases? “
The increase in RSV cases comes as new coronavirus infections have risen 148% in the United States over the past two weeks and hospitalizations have increased 73%, according to data from the New York Times.
The surge in coronavirus infections has been largely attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant and low vaccination rates in some states.
“I worry as the children return to school with the Delta in circulation, we will see huge school epidemics that we have not seen in previous waves, disproportionately affecting the children,” wrote the Dr Haq. “I have cared for hospitalized pediatric patients with Covid throughout the pandemic, but this time with unvaccinated and susceptible children plus the Delta variant, we will see more pediatric Covid admissions.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has banned local governments and state agencies from requiring vaccines and has banned local authorities from requiring face masks.
Florida could face similar challenges with viruses early in the school year. Gov. Ron DeSantis has spoken out against the CDC’s new hiding recommendations, his office saying in a statement last week that “parents know what is best for their children.”
The peak of RSV cases is not confined to the United States. New Zealand has also recently reported an increase in RSV infections.
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