Phoenix Children’s Hospital seeing a spike in RSV cases amid national surge
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Like other children’s hospitals across the country, Phoenix Children’s is seeing a significant increase in RSV cases.
Dr. Wassim Ballan, Division Chief of Infectious Diseases with Phoenix Children’s, told Arizona’s Family the increase started in early October, which is very atypical for the virus. “We’re basically seeing the same trend that everybody else is seeing across the country, which is an earlier season than typical,” Dr. Ballan said.
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, RSV cases are on the rise statewide. In a recent blog post on AZDHS, Dr. Eugene Livar said “4.5 times more RSV cases have been reported when compared to the five-season average for this week.” He was referring to a week in early October.
According to statewide data, RSV is impacting kids four and under the most. Symptoms could include a runny nose, low appetite, coughing, and sneezing. At Phoenix Children’s, Dr. Ballan says the most serious cases are happening with premies, babies with pre-existing heart and lung conditions, and kids with asthma.
“I would just want to remind people who have children who are higher risk RSV, to be diligent about washing their hands, you know, keeping their baby away from someone who might be sick. We obviously are not saying you know, keep your baby at home and isolate them from everyone. That’s not what we would want to happen but we would want them to be aware of who’s around that baby,” Dr. Ballan said.
A Valley mother also has a warning to other families after her baby girl was admitted into the ICU with RSV. Kelly Soares and her 10-month-old daughter Brielle spent six days in the Phoenix Children’s Hospital ICU. She thinks Brielle may have gotten sick at daycare. After days of cold-like symptoms and a fever of 106 degrees, she knew it had to be something more serious.
“It was awful. It was the hardest week of my life,” Soares said. “She was miserable. No interaction, just lethargic and making whimpering noises when she was trying to breathe.”
She says Brielle’s body couldn’t keep up with it. She says Brielle got COVID-19 in August, which could have made her immunocompromised. “It kind of takes parents off guard because most of the time it can just be a normal cough, but in young, babies, infants and children, it can all of a sudden attack,” Soares said.
Typically, it’s just a mild cold with a runny nose, low appetite, coughing and sneezing. But Brielle had all of the above and more which took her from the ER to the ICU. “She started to intake less and less food,” Soares said. “She became more lethargic and didn’t want to play and didn’t smile.”
Kelly said it was hard to see the virus attack because there is no vaccine to make it better like there is with the flu or COVID. But luckily, Brielle is improving. She is out of the hospital and at home recovering. “It’s really hard to see your child go through it, and I just hope no other parent has to see that. It’s miserable,” Soares said.
Unlike COVID-19 and the flu, there’s no vaccine for RSV. So at what point should you take your baby or child to the doctor if you suspect they could have RSV?
“I think the focus of the parents should be on how comfortable my baby looks when they’re having those symptoms. Obviously, if their child also has the risk factors that we mentioned prematurity, heart or lung conditions, and if they start having, you know, the respiratory symptoms, they need to be watched very closely and if they show any sign of difficulty breathing or if they’re not eating as well as they’re supposed to, or if they start having pauses in the respiratory, you know, function or breathing. That’s when definitely they will need to be assessed,” Dr. Ballan said.
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