HomeArkansas newsArkansas faces increased RSV hospitalizations

Arkansas faces increased RSV hospitalizations

Arkansas – Arkansas Children’s Hospital, along with other medical facilities in the state, is facing an increase in admissions of children with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) as the season for upper respiratory illnesses continues. This surge comes at a time when families are gathering for the holidays, a period that unfortunately coincides with a heightened risk of RSV among children.

Navigating Holiday Gatherings Amid RSV Concerns

The festive season, while a time for joy and family gatherings, also brings the challenge of protecting the youngest and most vulnerable from RSV. Dr. Robert Hopkins from UAMS, an expert in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, emphasizes the importance of controlling the environment around babies. He suggests that families planning to visit relatives should confirm in advance if everyone attending is healthy. Hand washing before holding a baby and avoiding contact if someone is coughing or sneezing are critical precautions.

Arkansas Children’s Hospital is experiencing an influx of young patients suffering from RSV, a leading cause of hospitalization in kids for bronchiolitis and pneumonia. Dr. Hopkins describes the typical progression of the illness, starting with a stuffy or runny nose and escalating to more severe symptoms such as a worsening cough and breathing difficulties.

Personal Stories and Hospital Struggles

Elicia Dover, a mother who recently faced difficulties in finding an RSV immunization for her 5-month-old, recounts her harrowing experience when her son contracted RSV at just 11 weeks old. Her son was hospitalized for three days, and Dover witnessed many other seriously ill children in the hospital, some requiring ventilator support.

Prevention and Protection Tips

UAMS advises regular hand washing, the use of hand sanitizers, and being cautious about touching common surfaces to prevent RSV. Dr. Hopkins also recommends the use of masks in crowded places. Vaccinations are encouraged, particularly for older adults, pregnant women in the latter stages of pregnancy, and infants, through a passive antibody product that can help prevent RSV.

Due to a limited supply of FDA-approved injections, Arkansas Children’s Hospital reserves these for the sickest children. However, they advocate for vaccinating eligible family members and children against other respiratory illnesses to help curb the spread.

Rick Barr, the Executive Vice President and Chief Officer of Arkansas Children’s Health System, assures that their hospitals, clinics, and emergency departments are well-equipped and prepared to handle the surge. As the state’s only pediatric health system, they are committed to being available for every child in need.

To further combat the RSV surge, the CDC is releasing 77,000 RSV immunizations for children. This effort is part of a broader initiative to lower the number of RSV cases and protect the health of children in Arkansas. The situation highlights the ongoing need for vigilance and proactive measures to safeguard children’s health, especially during peak seasons for respiratory illnesses.

Olivia Martinez

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