HEALTH

RSV cases are now starting to overwhelm Utah hospitals

Nov 15, 2022, 6:28 PM | Updated: Nov 16, 2022, 9:53 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah hospitals are starting to be overwhelmed with RSV cases and it’s a trend that could last all winter if we don’t change our behaviors.

Primary Children’s Hospital has been running on the brink of full capacity.

That struggle to breathe coming from down in the belly of 5-month-old Carter, is what really got Courtney Milner’s attention.

“Even though his cough wasn’t bad, it was the retractions that got me really paying attention,” Milner said.

It was difficult for five-month-old Carter Milner to breathe as he fought off RSV. (Courtney Milner) Doctor Andrew Pavia, director of Epidemiology at Primary Children’s Hospital said flu shots, COVID-19 boosters, and hand washing can all lighten the load at hospitals. (KSL TV) It was difficult for five-month-old Carter Milner to breathe as he fought off RSV. (Courtney Milner)

That was after being sick for just a couple of days. Milner said Carter’s big sisters were the first to get sick. But then it seemed to spread to him.

“He went downhill so fast that, I don’t know, it was really scary because he was turning all sorts of different colors like over and over again,” Milner added.

Because hospitals are so full she said they first tried Riverton Hospital before being redirected to Utah Valley Hospital, where she said it was easy to see that a lot of kids had it.

“I saw kids intubated with RSV and they’re healthy kids,” she said. “They’re not like him, NICU babies.”

Doctors said this is why we all need to do our part this winter.

“If the numbers increase over the next two weeks, which we expect they will, then we really are going to be in a serious situation in terms of hospital capacity,” said Dr. Andrew Pavia, director of Epidemiology at Primary Children’s Hospital.

He said flu shots, COVID-19 boosters and hand-washing can all lighten the load.

“It’s a good time to tell people, ‘No, you can’t come over and visit the baby no matter how cute my 3-month-old is,’ because you want to protect your child,” Pavia explained.

The key is looking out for others, even if your own family might be less-vulnerable.

Milner said, “If the hospitals are already full, I’m worried to see what would happen if he gets sick again.”

Pavia said the idea very simply is to do your best to not get sick.

He said the number of sick is right along with some of the worst years ever and it continues to go up.

What signs doctors say to look for as RSV cases spike

Dr. Per Gesteland at University of Utah and Primary Children’s Hospital said RSV looks like a cold at first, with symptoms like coughing and fewer wet diapers.

He said if your child starts breathing fast, and if their lips or tongue starts turning blue, then you need to take your child to the hospital immediately.

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RSV cases are now starting to overwhelm Utah hospitals