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Children's Wisconsin says RSV cases are surging as virus hits peak in state

Children's Hospital saw an average of 52 kids hospitalized with RSV daily during the week of Nov. 1. That's a jump from the week of Oct. 4 when the daily average was 11 kids hospitalized.
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Posted at 5:53 PM, Nov 07, 2022

MILWAUKEE — Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases have spiked in the last few weeks at Children's Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

According to Children's Wisconsin, the hospital has seen an average of 52 kids hospitalized with RSV daily during the week of Nov. 1. That's a jump from the week of Oct. 4 when the daily average was 11 kids hospitalized. In the first week of September, the weekly average was three kids hospitalized.

Dr. Rainer Gedeit is a pediatric critical care medicine specialist at Children's. He says cases began in October and started to double every week.

Average kids hospitalized with RSV daily at Children's Wisconsin:

  • Week of Oct. 4: Average of 11 kids
  • Week of Oct. 11: Average of 22 kids
  • Week of Oct. 18: Average of 31 kids
  • Week of Oct. 25: Average of 45 kids
  • Week of Nov. 1: Average of 52 kids

Anyone can get RSV, but it is a bigger threat to infants and those with vulnerable immune systems. RSV can appear with common cold symptoms with early signs such as a runny nose, decrease in appetite, and cough. However, for little ones, irregular breathing, discoloration, and dehydration are serious symptoms.

Dr. Gedeit says the hospital is seeing more RSV cases than Covid-19. Currently, Children's has about 13 patients with Covid and nearly 50 patients with RSV.

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Dr. Gredeit is also hoping this is Wisconsin's peak.

"We know that since Covid hit, our viral seasons have been skewed," he said. "Our last big viral season was at the end of 2019 (when) we had a peak of RSV and flu. Then when 2020 hit, we really didn't see much of an RSV season because of Covid isolation. Then we had a spike in the summer of 2021. Now we are seeing this spike, which is really early for RSV this year."

Health officials are also worried about the rise in influenza cases.

"What we're worried about right now is influenza, which is starting to rise in the state of Wisconsin," Dr. Gredeit said. "Exactly what will happen in our normal viral season I think is unpredictable at this point. We're hoping we can get back to our normal cycle within the next few years."

Dr. Gedeit encourages prevention practices and knowing what symptoms to look for at home.

Tips to prevent RSV:

  • Washing your hands
  • Staying home when you're sick
  • Avoid close contact with others
  • Covering your coughs and sneezes
  • Wash/disinfect surfaces of your home (Ex: doorknobs)
  • Get flu shot and Covid-19 vaccine/booster (there is no vaccine for RSV)

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