Phoenix Children’s Hospital sees spike in RSV cases amid national outbreak

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 at Phoenix Children’s, told Arizona’s Family that the surge began in early October, which is highly atypical for the virus. “We’re basically seeing the same trend that everyone is seeing across the country, which is an earlier season than usual,” Dr. Ballan said.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, cases of RSV are on the rise across the state. In a recent AZDHS blog post, Dr. Eugene Livar said that “4.5 times more RSV cases were reported compared to the five-season average for this week.” He was referring to a week in early October.

According to statewide data, RSV affects children four years and younger the most. Symptoms may include a runny nose, poor appetite, coughing and sneezing. At Phoenix Children’s, Dr. Ballan says the most severe cases occur in premature babies, babies with pre-existing heart and lung conditions, and children with asthma.

“I would just like to remind people who have children at high risk of RSV, to be diligent about washing their hands, you know, keeping their baby away from anyone who might be sick. We’re obviously not saying you know, keep your baby home and isolate him from everyone. This is not what we would want to happen, but we would want them to know who is around this baby,” Dr Ballan said.

In a recent AZDHS blog post, Dr. Eugene Livar said that “4.5 times more RSV cases were reported compared to the five-season average for this week.”

A Valley mum also has a warning to other families after her baby girl was admitted to intensive care with RSV. Kelly Soares and her 10-month-old daughter, Brielle, spent six days in intensive care at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. She thinks Brielle may have gotten sick at daycare. After days of cold symptoms and a fever of 106 degrees, she knew it had to be something more serious.

“It was horrible. It was the hardest week of my life,” Soares said. “She was unhappy. No interaction, just lethargic and moaning when she tried to breathe.

She says Brielle’s body couldn’t keep up. She says Brielle contracted COVID-19 in August, which could have made her immune-compromised. “It kind of catches parents off guard because most of the time it’s just a normal cough, but in young people, babies, infants and children, it can suddenly cause a cough. sudden attack,” Soares said.

Typically it’s just a mild cold with a runny nose, poor appetite, coughing and sneezing. But Brielle had all of the above and more, which took her from the ER to intensive care. “She started consuming less and less food,” Soares said. “She became more lethargic and didn’t want to play and wasn’t smiling.”

Kelly said it’s hard to see the attack of the virus because there’s no vaccine to make it better like there is with the flu or COVID. But luckily, Brielle is improving. She was discharged from the hospital and home recovering. “It’s really hard to watch your child go through this, and I just hope no other parent has to see this. It’s miserable,” Soares said.

Unlike COVID-19 and the flu, there is no vaccine for RSV. So when should you take your baby or child to the doctor if you suspect they might have RSV?

“I think parents should focus on my baby’s comfort when he has these symptoms. Obviously, if their child also has the risk factors that we mentioned, prematurity, heart or lung problems, and if they start having, you know, the respiratory symptoms, they need to be watched very closely and he shows the slightest sign of difficulty breathing or if they’re not eating as well as they’re supposed to, or if they start having pauses in breathing, you know, function or breathing. This is when they will definitely need to be evaluated,” Dr. Ballan said.

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