GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — In the past month, the percentage of children testing positive for RSV has nearly doubled at Cone Health.
The case spike is forcing the medical center to put mask and visitor restrictions in place in certain areas of the hospital.
On Tuesday, there were11 children in the hospital with the virus, compared to a low of four last week.
To prevent the spread, visitors will be required to wear masks starting Wednesday. Children 12 and younger will not be allowed to visit patient care areas that involve kids at Alamance Regional and Moses Cone Hospital.
“Over the past week we’ve had, you know, 20 plus patients who’ve been come to hospital with RSV,” said Dr. Suresh Nagappan, director of pediatrics at Cone Health.
Doctors are seeing a sudden rise in the number of young children sick with RSV. Dr. Nagappan said almost every patient he treats comes in needing oxygen.
“We’re not seeing a lot of kids who have, you know, a lot of permanent or long-term issues,” he said. “But there are some kids who get really sick and some kids who need to be on a ventilator and here in the hospital for several weeks, so it kind of runs the gamut.”
Of the dozens of kids he’s seen, most are not vaccinated against the virus. Many parents are having a hard time finding the brand new shot since there’s a nationwide shortage.
“The delay is really from just such a huge demand, and they’re really recommended for every baby, so that’s four million babies a year,” said Dr. Nagappan. “They just don’t have the capacity to make it.”
At Archdale-Trinity Pediatrics, providers have ordered about 40 doses and are waiting for them to come in.
“If that is something we do get in would be something we’d be very diligent about giving it to our higher risk populations,” said Hobie Proctor, a family nurse practitioner.
Proctor said he’s seeing a lot of viral illness spreading right now, which causes some concern for what December and January will bring.
“It does kind of put the thought into the back of our mind about being prepared and being diligent and being up to date on all the current recommendations and signs and symptoms we need to look for,” he said.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control shows almost all children will get RSV by their second birthday. Dr. Nagappan doesn’t want parents to worry too much and hopes they’ll take common sense precautions heading into the holidays.
“If you’ve got a really young baby under a month, it’s reasonable to say, I’m not going to go in the middle of crowds,” he said. “I’m not going to have tons of visitors.”
These providers do recommend you get your child vaccinated against RSV when it’s available to you. There are two different options. One is a shot for babies. The other is a shot for pregnant people to get between 32 and 36 weeks to pass protective antibodies along to the baby.