RSV Cases Are Rising Along With Expected Flu, COVID Surge

Medical experts say the break in flu and respiratory illness hospitalizations brought on by COVID is over, with hospitals already seeing a big change.
Posted at 8:51 PM, Oct 25, 2022

RSV is a common respiratory virus surging in several states. It can start with a runny nose and loss of appetite, but it can progress to wheezing and difficulty breathing.

Steven Balka noticed his seven-week-old son struggling and rushed him to the hospital. His baby has been in the ICU for a week recovering.

"If you feel as if something is wrong with your child, and you know your child, and you know your child better than anyone does, get your child help immediately," Balka said.

Children's hospitals are overwhelmed at an unusual time for RSV cases to spike.

"Our beds are filled to capacity; the kids keep coming in," said Dr. Juan Salazar at Connecticut Children's Hospital. "I have never seen this level of surge, specifically of RSV, coming into our hospital." 

One mom in Texas said three hospitals were full when her son, who has asthma, came down with RSV.

"I'm panicking, crying — that's a scary feeling," said Laykin Weaver. "You don't know what's happening in that moment." 

Along with RSV, a wintertime rise in COVID cases is expected to coincide with the flu season, creating a so-called "tripledemic."

Doctors are urging people to get their flu shots and COVID booster shots as soon as possible.

"We know how to manage RSV," said Dr. Ashish Jha, White House COVID-19 response coordinator. "Most children, most adults, it's relatively mild, and in the small number of kids who do end up getting sick from it, we can take care of it. But we want to make sure those beds are open for those kids, which his why it's really important to protect yourself against influenza and COVID as well."

No vaccine is available for RSV, but Pfizer trials are under way. A vaccine candidate appears effective for older adults.