Metro Detroit hospitals seeing uptick in cases of RSV among children

Posted at 6:51 AM, Jul 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-20 06:51:21-04

(WXYZ) — As the coronavirus pandemic continues, doctors are now issuing a warning about another respiratory disease spreading among infants and young children.

There has been a summertime surge in cases of the respiratory syncytial virus, RSV.

Cases among kids typically crop up in the fall and spike during the winter when school is back in session, but hospitals are seeing these cases now.

The CDC said RSV sends 58,000 kids 5 and under to the hospital every year and causes between 100 and 500 deaths in the same age group.

Elizabeth West says her 3-month-old cousin Ryder spent five days in the hospital with RSV, which also led him to develop pneumonia.

"He had a severe case with mucus that was taking over, and it was causing a hard time with his breathing and ya know, just swallowing in general. Just everything was clogged up," West said.

She also said her son battled RSV 12 years ago as an infant.

"I was terrified. I didn't know what to expect. Ya know, because there was a point in time when my son was barely breathing, and I had to take him in immediately," she said.

Dr. Matthew Simms, an infectious disease specialist at Beaumont Health, said RSV is a disease of all ages, but it's worse in the very young and the very old who have had other respiratory conditions.

"We've been seeing an uptick over the last several weeks of RSV," he said.

With masks no longer required for the fully vaccinated and other COVID-19 restrictions no longer in place, Simms said greater exposure to other viruses, in this case RSV, is the result.

"For the last few weeks, it's been about 21 positive cases across Beaumont. which is still not a large number. But, considering it's summer and we hadn't seen any, it's meaningful that the respiratory viruses are coming back," he said.

As parents prepare to send their children back to school in person, Simms said most viruses to beware of are the flu and the common cold.

"Get rest, keep hydrated, you can take cough suppressants, things like that if you need to," he said.

Simms said that occasionally, people get very sick from these viruses, but it's rare.

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