Flu activity continued to rise across the US last week, adding to the strain on emergency rooms and children’s hospitals. At the beginning of respiratory viruses.

Flu It caused an estimated 4.4 million illnessesSo far this season, there have been 38,000 hospitalizations and 2,100 deaths, including seven pediatric deaths, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday. The highest levels of flu hospital They are among adults aged 65 and older.Children under 5 are followed, CDC.

Children’s hospitals in the US They have been under tension for weeks. Rush from patients with RSV and other respiratory viruses. RSV levels are mild in most people, but the virus can be dangerous in young children and older adults, especially those with other health conditions. Concerns.

“In other areas where you’re trying to fight RSV, you’ve got flu and you’ve got Covid,” said Tina Tan, vice president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. “This is one after the other.”

RSV cases appear to be decreasing or decreasing in some parts of the US, doctors said. Rates of RSV hospitalizations in 12 states in the CDC’s RSV-surveillance network It is higher than the recent pre-pandemic peak..

Some 76% of pediatric patient beds They are held all over the US And occupancy of pediatric intensive care beds is just over 80%, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. That’s up from 65% of pediatric beds and 70% of pediatric ICU beds occupied in early August.

States including Massachusetts, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Texas have more than 90% of their pediatric beds occupied, the data show. The data does not explain why patients are in hospital.

Researchers say the coronavirus is having a lasting impact, putting millions out of work and reducing productivity and hours for millions more.


Neta Satam for the Wall Street Journal

In Reno, Nev. “We’ve really gone through all the space we have,” said Christina Dieter, chief physician and pediatric critical care specialist at Renon Children’s Hospital.

Pediatrics Medical Group.

At Renown Children’s, pediatric patients are backed into the waiting room, some teenagers are sent to the adult floor and a list of children in the nearby emergency room is waiting for a bed, she said.

Other respiratory viruses, including Covid-19, and High demand from pediatric mental health patients They are contributing to the stress in children’s hospitals, doctors. A shortage of nurses and a reduction in pediatric beds have compounded the damage.

In the year From 2008 to 2018, according to a 2021 study in the Journal of Pediatrics, the number of pediatric inpatient beds in the United States decreased by 12%. Attrition in rural areas is higher than average, and pediatric specialty care is increasingly concentrated in large children’s hospitals. The pandemic has exacerbated those trends, doctors said.

“I think when we combine that reduction in beds with the increase in demand for those beds,” said Anna Cushing, MD, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles who led the study. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles did not have room to accept all the transfer patients who needed beds, said Chief Medical Officer James Stein.

At Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, emergency room wait times ranged from two to six hours. In October, the hospital began to send administrative staff Freeing regular staff to volunteer there to focus on the sickest patients.

Staff will give children blankets and alert a special nurse if patients are sick, said Nicholas Holmes, Rady Children’s chief operating officer. Dr. Holmes, a trained pediatric urologist, said he spent a lot of time in the emergency room last week.

“Giving a coloring book and giving a kid a popsicle, it helps them feel a little better,” Dr. Holmes said.

Share your thoughts

How are you protecting your children from RSV and the flu? Join the discussion below.

People should wash their hands, stay home if they’re sick, consider wearing a mask at home and when traveling, and get vaccinated against Covid-19 and the flu, doctors and health officials said. He said people should be aware of the potential dangers, especially to infants and the elderly, during Thanksgiving gatherings.

There is no specific treatment for RSV, but over-the-counter medications can help with fever and patients should stay hydrated. Parents should consult pediatricians if a child has trouble breathing, has difficulty staying hydrated or appears weak, doctors said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says eligible high-risk infants may receive more than the usual five doses of the monoclonal antibody palivizumab to protect them during this unusually early and long RSV season. Hospital referrals should be made to avoid overcrowding and long waiting times for children who need intensive care, the academy said.

– John Camp contributed to this article.

Write to Brianna Abbott at brianna.abbott@wsj.com

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