According to a First Class Children’s Hospital doctor, RSV surgeries are coming earlier than usual this year, reaching record numbers at some hospitals in Utah and around the country. (Christine Murphy, Deseret News)

Estimated reading time: 3-4 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah doctors are bracing for a bad RSV season, and Dr. Andrew Pavia said the respiratory syncytial virus is “here and on the rise.”

Pavia, who specializes in infectious diseases at Utah Health and Primary Children’s Hospital, said RSV outbreaks have been unusual this year and have reached record-setting levels in some hospitals around the country.

He said there is an outbreak of RSV that is typically considered “moderately severe” in December and January and brings some very sick children to hospitals. This year, however, the RSV outbreak seems more serious.

Concerns about RSV have been compounded by the so-called “tripledemic” — a term Pavia coined to describe three viruses hitting at once. In this case, those viruses are RSV, Covid-19, and the flu.

“When viruses hit all at once, it can really overwhelm the immune system,” Pavia said.

He said there is always significant flu activity in Utah. And although it is not yet at a dangerous level in the region this year, it is at a dangerous level in some southern states and doctors are concerned that it will increase rapidly in the next few weeks. Utah has seen a modest increase in numbers, Pavia said. Covid-19 Issues, and although unknown, there is concern about issues that arise during the winter.

But Pavia says there are currently good vaccines for both COVID-19 and the flu.

“People can still get infected after getting the vaccine, but it’s the best way to prevent you or your children from going to the hospital (from an overdose) or getting seriously ill,” he said.

RSV currently There are no vaccines, so people must rely on “old-fashioned but effective preventive measures” to fight RSV, including keeping babies away from sick people, wearing masks, covering coughs or sneezes, and washing hands.

“As we move toward a time when we’re going to see a lot of viral diseases – and some of them have the potential to be very serious – I think it’s important for parents to remember that prevention is really the tool we’ve got. And you can use it,” Pavia said.

Preventive measures can help keep babies and families healthy, especially when emergency rooms and doctors can be overwhelmed by so many cases.

It is important for parents to remember that prevention is indeed a tool we have and can use.

– Dr. Andrew Pavia, infectious disease specialist

Most children with RSV can be treated by a pediatrician, but Pavia said parents should look for signs of dehydration and difficulty breathing when considering taking a child to the emergency room. They said that RSV symptoms can prevent babies from eating and drinking due to secretions in their small airways.

“You notice less wet diapers and difficulty taking a bottle or eating – and when this happens, it’s time to see your doctor. If a child is lethargic, if they don’t urinate at all, you need to go straight to the emergency room,” Pavia said.

He said respiratory problems in young children are characterized by rapid breathing, signs that they are working hard to breathe, blue lips or fingers, or extreme tiredness.

Pavia says doctors are on the verge of several effective preventative measures for RSV that could become available starting next year. Some examples include an RSV vaccine for the elderly who are most susceptible to the virus, successful research in which vaccinated mothers pass RSV protection to their infants, and long-acting monoclonal antibodies that can protect children during the winter.

Related stories

Recent health stories

Emily Ashcraft joined as a reporter in 2021. She covers courts and legal issues as well as health, faith and religious news.

More stories you might want

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *