RSV cases continue to surge in Douglas County; health department concerned about pediatric ICU bed capacity

RSV 010920
Posted at 12:03 PM, Oct 25, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — In a press release Tuesday, the Douglas County Health Department announced 205 Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) cases were reported in the most recent week.

This data compares to only 33 cases that were reported the same week one year ago.

The health department is continuing to monitor the RSV surge and has concerns surrounding the capacity of pediatric ICU beds in the metro.

See their full press release below.

The full and scary name is Respiratory Syncytial Virus, but most people call it simply RSV. It is a contagious virus that affects the lungs and breathing passages. Usually, it surfaces during the winter months, but this year it is occurring at a high level in the fall after a surprising number of cases during the summer of 2021.

While providers are not required to report RSV, DCHD is aware of the current surge and is collecting reports to be able to keep physicians informed of the situation. Data for the most recent week shows 205 positive RSV tests in Douglas County compared to 33 for the same week one year ago. The previous week showed 182 cases, up from 73 for that week a year ago, and the trend began prior to that.

Further impacting the concern is a report that pediatric Intensive Care Unit beds are near capacity.

“RSV is not rare, and it is treatable, but it can make young children very sick,” Douglas County Health Director Dr. Lindsay Huse said. “We want parents and providers to be aware of the situation so that we can reduce the number of cases and preserve those scarce ICU beds.”

It's common for children to have an RSV infection during their first two years, but the disease can infect people at any age. It also is possible to have RSV more than once. It also makes more children and older adults whose immunity may have waned vulnerable. The symptoms generally are like the common cold, but RSV can cause more serious infections including an inflammation of the small airways in the lungs and pneumonia. This is a particular concern among infants.

Treatment generally involves over-the-counter medicines to reduce pain and fevers. It is important for people who are infected with RSV to avoid dehydration by drinking enough fluids. Please don’t give your child nonprescription cold medicines without first talking to your health care provider.

People occasionally need to be hospitalized for RSV if they have trouble breathing or become dehydrated. Infants and other young children and older adults with chronic medical conditions are among those most at risk for severe RSV infections. Be sure to seek medical treatment for any person, regardless of age, who is having difficulty breathing.

“Remember, it’s always a good idea to stay home or keep your children home if you or they are not feeling well,” Dr. Huse said.

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