NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Respiratory viruses have parents rushing their children to the hospital with breathing problems this fall.
“We are seeing our emergency department pretty full, and, unfortunately, we have kids waiting in the emergency department for beds in the hospital when they need to be admitted,” Dr. Ian Michelow with Connecticut Children’s said.
Respiratory syncytial virus, better known as RSV, is sweeping the nation, leading to packed children’s hospitals — to the point where Connecticut facilities have considered calling in the National Guard.
Michelow said there’s no specific treatment other than giving children oxygen therapy and breathing support.
And, now, seasonal influenza is making hospitals even more full. Doctors like Michelow are calling a mix of the two viruses a “twindemic.”
RSV usually starts with a stuffy nose that then overwhelms children’s young airways. Those are even smaller for those under the age of 6, who are impacted much more than older children.
It’s dangerous for the older population, as well.
“What are the more common causes of pneumonia in the elderly, and so it’s something we still need to think about and protect ourselves against RSV also,” Michelow said.
That includes wearing a mask and washing hands. Good hygiene is critical, Michelow said, especially going into the holiday season.
“To see as much flu as we are in November is very concerning because we know that was Thanksgiving coming up,” he said. “People are getting together, and that’s a real opportunity for the virus to continue to spread.”