US struggles to cope with rising childhood respiratory infections | New

Hospitals across the United States are operating near capacity to deal with a spike in childhood respiratory infections amid a shortage of children’s hospital beds and medical staff and the ever-devastating COVID-19 pandemic. rage.

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Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild cold-like symptoms. “It is the most common cause of pneumonia in children under one year of age in the United States,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

“With RSV on the rise and patients being treated for COVID-19, these viruses are impacting all hospitals,” ClickOnDetroit reported. Infants are the most severely affected group and their sad stories have captured media attention as hospitalizations for RSV rise rapidly.

“They were so full. The whole pediatric ward was full of RSV cases. It was awful,” Amanda Bystran, a mother of two living in Virginia, said in a CNN report.

The shortage of pediatric hospital beds is expected to be the cause of delays in child care. About 80% of pediatric hospital beds are occupied in the United States, according to the report. In Rhode Island, the rate is 99%.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, most U.S. states have seen a decrease in the number of pediatric inpatient beds, and nearly a quarter of U.S. children have experienced an increase in distance to their inpatient unit. nearest pediatric hospital, an analysis by Health Affairs pointed out.

According to the analysis, many community hospitals have opted out of the pediatric sector to improve their profits. This forces hospitals across the country to transfer sick children between states for treatment, NBC News reported.

In some cases, when hospitals have empty beds, there are not enough medical staff to care for the sick. Children’s National Hospital in Washington DC warned last week that “this increase in disease is exacerbated by the nationwide shortage of healthcare personnel.”

A 2022 analysis found that the total number of nurses in the United States fell by more than 100,000 between 2020 and 2021, the largest decline seen in four decades.

“The specialty of pediatric critical care…is highly specialized and difficult to recruit in hospitals today,” Katie Boston-Leary, director of nursing programs at the American Nurses Association, said in a CNN report.

Some children’s hospitals had no idea what was inflicting the growing number of hospitalized infants, leading to misdiagnosis of colds, which in some cases resulted in death. The outbreak has also caught doctors off guard because cases of RSV and other respiratory viruses typically peak together in winter as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the United States.

The weekly number of positive RSV tests increased more than fivefold from August 13 to October 15. COVID-19 is also the leading cause of death among American children, according to a CDC report. All respiratory viruses together stretch health care resources in the United States.

The CDC’s Respiratory Syncytial Virus Hospitalization Surveillance Network (RSV-NET), a special surveillance system for the disease, showed RSV-associated hospitalizations in October 2022 were about double the numbers in 2021 and far more. higher than those of 2018, 2019 and 2020.