RSV and flu driving record pediatric emergency visits in Utah
Flu and RSV, a respiratory illness, are spiking fast and early this year, filling Utah's pediatric hospital again after two difficult winters of COVID.
Driving the news: Emergency visits at Intermountain Primary Children's Hospital "are setting records for the last decade at least," Dr. Per Gesteland, a pediatric hospitalist with Primary Children's and U of U Health, told Axios.
- Most of those patients have RSV, a virus that's typically most serious among infants and young toddlers.
- But flu case counts also are high, and COVID cases in emergency rooms statewide rose by nearly 12% last week, state data show.
By the numbers: Intermountain is tallying about 190 RSV cases per week, Gesteland said — "well above" last year's peak of about 140.
- Kids' hospital visits for bronchiolitis — the set of breathing problems linked to RSV and other respiratory illnesses — are "at or above our historic peaks," Gesteland said.
- About 1.5 in every 100,o00 Utahns were hospitalized for flu-like illnesses last week, which is a much higher late-November rate than during the five previous years, state data show.
What's next: Bronchiolitis numbers aren't slowing down, and flu cases are "pointing straight up," Gesteland said. "We're expecting to see a lot more flu, and it'll get worse before it starts to get better."
- Winter viruses typically move east to west, Gesteland said, so Utah is likely early in its rise in cases.
Of note: Utah's COVID hospitalizations rose sharply last week after a gradual rise through most of November.
- But at about 27 patients per day, COVID hospitalizations are much lower than they were at the same time in 2021 (62) and 2020 (94).
What to do: Gesteland said parents with sick babies and young toddlers should visit a pediatrician if the child isn't interactive or appears to be feeding poorly, with few wet diapers.
- If the child is struggling to breathe — look for labored movement in the chest and abdomen, engaged neck muscles and any tinge of blue in the lips or tongue — head to the ER.
For all ages: There are antiviral treatments for flu and COVID, so getting tested could be helpful, especially for patients who have underlying health risks.
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