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Central Pennsylvania hospitals are seeing increasing numbers of children with RSV

Health experts agree that the unseasonably early surges of RSV cases, especially among children, are a consequence of lifting COVID-19 precautions, which served to protect the public from a variety of viruses.
AP
Health experts agree that the unseasonably early surges of RSV cases, especially among children, are a consequence of lifting COVID-19 precautions, which served to protect the public from a variety of viruses.

After two years of virtually no cases, hospitals are seeing increases in the number of kids with RSV.

RSV mimics common cold symptoms, but for some experiencing it for the first time, it can be much worse.

Jessica Ericson is a pediatric infectious disease physician at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital in Hershey. She said children with RSV are filling hospital beds nationwide this year.

“Our hospital has been pretty full of babies and toddlers who have RSV and are admitted to the hospital because they need oxygen or some other help with their breathing,” she said.

Ericson said COVID-19 safety measures caused children to not be exposed to the virus during the last two years.

“We have a whole group of babies and young children who are meeting RSV for the first time in fall 2022 where some of them we would have normally expected to have run into RSV for the first time back in 2020 or 2021," she said. "So we’re kind of playing catch up.”

The hospital is having to change operations to take care of everyone.

“We are having to do things differently than we might have previously," Ericson said. "We’re bringing the ICU to them so that we’re able to take care of sicker kids in more places in the hospital than we usually would because the usual place that we would take care of them is full.”

Ericson said if children are coughing badly or breathing fast and hard, parents should call their doctors to see if they should be taken to the hospital.

Casey Zanowic is a WPSU radio news intern for fall 2022.