Nov 4, 2022 - News

Pediatric beds in North Texas are near capacity

Illustration of shadow hands grabbing at a tissue box

More viruses join the mix this winter. Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The flu and respiratory syncytial virus — known widely as RSV — are hitting the U.S. harder than previous years and they've arrived earlier than usual.

Why it matters: The illnesses are affecting children and adults, fueling concerns that a "tripledemic" of COVID, flu and RSV will strain urgent care centers and hospitals this season.

  • Public health experts say it may be time to put those masks back on.

Context: Flu season usually falls between October and May and peaks in December or January. This year, it arrived six weeks earlier and cases have been more severe than in recent years, the Washington Post reports.

  • Fewer people nationwide have gotten the flu vaccine this year compared with previous years, which could be contributing to the spread.
  • RSV season normally runs from December to April and peaks in February and March. This season, cases have been more severe and widespread.

By the numbers: There have been at least 880,000 flu illnesses, 6,900 hospitalizations and 360 deaths from flu so far this season, per the CDC.

Zoom in: The risk of flu was low in Dallas County as of Oct. 22, but officials warned that RSV cases were on the rise.

Threat level: Almost 95% of pediatric beds in trauma service areas are occupied across North Texas, Winifred King of the Cook Children's Health Care System said Thursday on Facebook Live.

  • "The sheer volume has made finding a bed for our patients a daily logistical puzzle," King said.
  • The hospital has requested that parents consider other options before taking their child to the hospital.

Of note: There's also been a shortage of amoxicillin, which is used to treat bacterial illnesses like pneumonia and bronchitis.

What we're watching: The winter surge at clinics, urgent care centers and hospitals could worsen burnout among health care workers.

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