Rise in RSV cases, PICU beds in Southern Nevada filling toward capacity

Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 11:49 PM PST
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Hospitals around Nevada are dealing with a rise in RSV cases, a respiratory illness in young children, as flu and COVID cases overlap this fall.

The Nevada Hospital Association reports there’s an uptick in hospital and ICU occupancy rates. NHA says rates are now at 70% and 75%. The Pediatric ICU occupancy rate was 100%. For perspective, the state has 61 pediatric beds in the north and 118 in the south. PICU beds are 21 in the north and 70 in the south.

Currently, RSV accounts for 18% of pediatric hospital admissions and COVID accounts for 4%.

FOX5 spoke with Dr. Brian Labus, a local infectious disease epidemiologist and Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health for UNLV about RSV.

“For most children, it’s a mild illness that winds up being more cold-like but it can be a very serious disease to some and really young children are hospitalized for it some time it is a top cause of pneumonia in very young children,” Dr. Labus said.

It is especially dangerous for premature babies with compromised immune systems. In August FOX5 introduced you to baby Isla, she was born with a rare condition. On November 3rd she passed away from RSV.

Why is it so bad now? All the precautions taken to keep COVID at bay left some children with no exposure to the common winter bug.

“RSV is a disease that basically we all get by about our second birthday, COVID screwed that up a little bit so there was some kids who didn’t get it really young so now there’s a lot of susceptible kids in slightly older age groups so it may just be that we have more people susceptible and that’s why we’re seeing a lot of disease,” Dr. Labus said.

Hospitals in Massachusetts are overwhelmed right now. The Pediatric ICUE at Mass General is running at 150% capacity.

“But if you have a young child you have a very small raspatory system – any inflammation in that system is going to make it very, very difficult to breathe. And that’s why these raspatory diseases can be such a serious problem for very young children,” Dr. Labus said.

This year the flu, COVID and RSV are overlapping.

“We have to think about all these diseases happening together. Flu shots are a great way to protect yourself from getting flu, COVID shots obviously will help you with that. But we don’t have vaccines for these other diseases, so we have to rely on our normal procedures that we take to protect ourselves. Washing your hands, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, staying home if you’re sick,” Dr. Labus said.

The NHA hospitalization rates for influenza jumped from an average of 5 patients last week to 30 this week.