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Not just COVID: The virus is causing an unprecedented summer surge in Louisiana, hospitalizing




Christopher Head’s godfather became more and more worried about him every time he breathed hard to swallow last week.

The pediatrician was giving antibiotics and respiratory therapy to a 20-month-old baby, but it seemed to be getting worse. After a particularly disturbing night, his godfather and guardian, Victoria Spain Robinson, promised to take him to the hospital.

They drove from Denham Springs to Baton Rouge, and in the emergency room of Our Lady of Lake Children’s Hospital, medical providers diagnosed him with a case of respiratory syncytial virus, commonly known as RSV.

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Victoria Spain Robinson is holding a 20-month-old Christopher Head in his living room in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. Head was recently hospitalized for RSV but is now at home.

The diagnosis was paradoxical, both surprising and anti-climatic. Cases of RSV are skyrocketing across southern states, and the Louisiana Department of Health officially considers it the RSV season, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned about its spread.

However, RSV usually does not spike in the summer. It is actually known as the winter virus, which is the main cause of hospitalization for infants under the age of one. A hospital full of small children with RSV in mid-July is unprecedented.

“This is the first time we’ve seen a major outbreak in the summer in the last two decades,” said Dr. Jay Hescock, who works as LSU Health Hospitalist Chief at a children’s hospital in New Orleans.

Increasing RSV infection

Pediatricians say they are drained, work longer hours and extra shifts, burn personal protective equipment, and wonder if the surge in cases will subside. Children’s hospitals in Louisiana are struggling to find enough beds and staff to handle all cases of RSV, and many hospitals are from other hospitals whose buildings are overcapacity. I had to stop accepting transfers.

As the coronavirus delta mutant travels through Louisiana (which has so far mainly affected adults), RSV is sweeping children and, among the recently lifted coronavirus restrictions, its Many have been infected for over a year.

“I knew RSV was coming back, but that’s a bad thing,” said Dr. Andres Carrion, a pediatric pulmonologist at the Hour Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital. “We’re seeing it early. What I’m worried about is that there may be no flattening. It could be a very long winter.”

Liliana Credur’s mother became more and more worried about her as her three-week-old baby breathed faster.

For example, the Hour Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital has had an average of 90 inpatients in recent weeks, always waiting for 10 to 15 inpatients to become available. However, at this point last summer, the average number of hospitals was half, or even three-quarters, and the average census ranged from 32 to 45.

The State Department of Health considers the RSV season to have a positive rate of RSV testing above 10%. The state remained below that number until mid-May. In mid-May, RSV-positive cases jumped nearly 10 percentage points to just under 20 percent. Since then, the number of cases has continued to increase, reaching nearly 30% of positive RSV cases in early July.

These numbers do not yet give a complete picture of the state’s outbreak. Children in the hospital are tested for the virus, but some pediatricians do not recommend testing for mild cases of RSV because there is no cure. Confirming the diagnosis usually does not change the treatment for the typical symptoms of the virus. Make sure your child is properly hydrated, have no difficulty breathing, and keep the airways clean.

A 24-year-old nurse Lafayette and a 30-year-old Rev. Eunice died on the weekend after seeking treatment at a COVID-19 hospital …

More, worse

Last year, when people wore masks, avoided large gatherings, and washed their hands more than usual to stop the spread of the coronavirus, other viruses also fell. Like influenza, RSV was one of them.

But “as soon as the COVID restrictions eased things, things happened one after another,” said Dr. Ashley Lucas, Medical Director of Pediatric Primary Care for Our Lady of the Lake.

The first was croup, a virus that affects the upper respiratory tract. Then it was hand-foot-and-mouth disease. This is also caused by the virus and can cause a rash around the mouth with cold-like symptoms.

However, the surge in RSV was the worst ever. For adults and older children who have experienced it before, RSV generally feels like a common cold. However, in infants, it can cause pneumonia and bronchiolitis.

“The cases we are seeing now are arguably more than those seen in the normal season, and the severity is clearly worse than before,” said Lafayette Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, which oversees the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Specialist Dr. Reinaldo della Rosa said. Care unit of Our Lady of Lourdes Women and Children’s Hospital.

“We want it to drip, but there are no signs of it,” he added.

Dela Rosa advises parents and guardians to pay attention to their baby if he is not eating, has a high fever, or appears tense when trying to breathe Did. Seeing the back and chest muscles contract during breathing indicates that the baby is “trying to breathe in to breathe and survive.”

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That’s what Robinson, 44, was worried about her Godson, Christopher. He had a very small premature birth at birth and weighed just over a pound, so he already had lung problems. His family lovingly calls him “fat daddy”. This is a monica that shows how much he has grown since he was born.

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Victoria Spain Robinson sits with Christopher Head, 20 months old, in the living room of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. Head was recently hospitalized for RSV but is now at home.

When Robinson took him to the hospital, there was no free bed to get him hospitalized immediately, as all other RSV cases, and various other illnesses, filled the hospital. They spent the night in the emergency room, and Christopher was hospitalized the next morning.

This has been a recurring theme of recent outbreaks. The hospital does not always have enough beds and staff to catch up.

“Most hospitals treating pediatric patients weren’t always equipped to handle the surge this summer,” Hescock said. “Not only this, but finding a place to care for children in other conditions is causing problems.”

“They were all full,” said Dr. Catherine O’Neill, Chief Medical Officer of Our Lady of the Lake. “They are full of severely ill children with the respiratory virus, so there are no beds available for weeks. Most of them are RSV.”

According to O’Neill, adult cases are usually mild, but RSV is also ill. “I’m a little dazzled by the rise in COVID here,” she said, as patients are confused as to whether their symptoms are due to COVID or RSV.

Increasing RSV infection

When Christopher stayed at the Hour Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital (the largest since opening in late 2019), the provider gave him oxygen and intravenous fluids to help him breathe more often with albuterol. Robinson stayed on his side.

“I’m Christopher, you have to get off this oxygen, the nanny was like ready to go home,” she laughed.

“Their babies are precious”

Most children become infected with RSV for the first time before the age of two. However, healthcare providers looking at them say that their patients range from newborns to toddlers to children, as their patients have not experienced an developmental cycle and building an immune system, primarily during the winter months. say.

“These children are very well protected and unexposed,” said Dr. Erin Hauk, Deputy Chief of Our Lady of the Lake Pediatrics.

Dr. Brooke Dismukes, a pediatrician at Jefferson’s Oxner Children’s Hospital, said this summer there are an increasing number of children aged 3 and 4 who have never had RSV severity.

“This is an exact picture of what it will look like in the months of our winter,” she said.

They were fishermen, artists, basketball coaches, and bus drivers.

One of the youngest patients admitted to RSV in the state was Liliana Credur in St. Martinville, who was admitted only three weeks old. Her mother said her brother had picked up the virus in day care. That’s probably the way it spreads to newborns. Lilianna was released after being treated for over a week with the Virgin woman and children in Lourdes.

“The poor baby couldn’t eat for four days. They were just putting her in body fluids,” her mother, Ashley Credur, 38.

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Victoria Spain Robinson holds her 20-month-old Christopher Head, her goddess saying goodbye in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Wednesday, July 14, 2021. Head was recently hospitalized for RSV but is now at home.

Despite high hospitalization rates, RSV is rarely fatal in the United States, but it is especially serious for children who are already suffering from breathing, and the most ill people may need intubation. .. Even in mild cases, it can be a disastrous slogan without an easy cure. Children who have it often have a fever, a cough, and a little appetite.

It also easily spreads to respiratory droplets such as coughs and infected surfaces. When Christopher was hospitalized, Robinson told his neighbors and friends that he had begun to keep his baby at home and keep him away from the crowds. She said she would like to share his story in the hope that another family would not have to hospitalize her child.

“Their babies are very valuable,” she said. “I’ve been trying to warn people. Stay away.”

Staff writer Emily Woodruff contributed to this report.




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