Major concerns are being raised in Texas as the Lone Star State is seeing an increase in children's hospitalizations – not just due to COVID-19, but also an unseasonably early outbreak of Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a pathogen that can cause pneumonia and bronchiolitis in infants.
Usually, RSV season occurs in the US is during fall, winter, and spring. RSV can spread via coughs, sneezes, and contact with surfaces with the virus on them. Symptoms include fever, a runny nose, coughing, sneezing, and wheezing, with symptoms usually appearing in stages rather than all at once.
The spread of COVID-19, together with the rise of RSV, is an extremely dangerous mix. One Texas hospital has identified 25 children with both viruses simultaneously, and those infected with both COVID-19 and RSV reportedly have a much higher hospitalization rate than either virus alone.
There is currently not enough data to estimate how contracting both viruses might affect disease severity – and unfortunately also mortality. Thousands of children might be at risk.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that 783 children were admitted to Texas hospitals with COVID-19 between July 1 and August 9. While previous variants were less aggressive when it came to children, the Delta variant has caused a significant increase in pediatric COVID-19 cases. Across the United States, nearly 94,000 children contracted COVID-19 in the week commencing August 2.
“We’re seeing a significantly greater number of children who are being hospitalized with COVID-19. Some are requiring ICU care, more than we’ve seen with previous surges, and that’s related to the increased transmissibility of delta,” Dr Seth D. Kaplan, president of the Texas Pediatric Society, told The Texas Tribune. “This is just a more aggressive variant. It’s sickening more children, and requiring more to be hospitalized. So that, on top of the RSV, is what’s really causing the capacity issues.”
“It is spreading like wildfire,” said Dr Jim Versalovic, pathologist-in-chief and interim pediatrician-in-chief at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. “During the past several weeks, Texas Children’s has been escalating strategies in terms of dealing with this dual surge.”
Texas has seen a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases – as well as hospitalizations and deaths – in the last few months, and several other states have experienced similar surges. The situation in the state might soon be repeated everywhere across the country. As always, the concern is that hospital beds – especially ICU beds – run out as medical facilities become overwhelmed.
Texas saw an increase of over 14,000 cases, 10,700 hospitalization, and 160 deaths due to COVID-19 on August 15.
[h/t: Texas Tribune]