HONOLULU (KHON2) — Respiratory virus cases that affect young children are still on the rise. But health officials say many of the more recent cases do not need to be hospitalized.
Pediatric hospitals across the country are still struggling with the rising number of children being checked in with severe cases of the respiratory disease known as RSV. Health officials says hospitals here are doing better.
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“The good news is that the severity of illness is not as bad as it was a couple of weeks ago and the volume is very manageable right now,” said Hilton Raethel, president of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii.
Health officials raised concerns about hospitals getting overwhelmed earlier this month. Raethel says the number of cases is still on the rise, but the recent cases are less severe and don’t need to be hospitalized.
“We’re definitely seeing an elevated level of RSV especially on very young children over what we would see normally. But the good news is we’re able to manage it very well at this time,” he said.
RSV infections usually cause mild symptoms which are similar to the common cold like coughing, runny nose, and loss of appetite. But for toddlers and infants, the infection can lead to more serious illnesses because they have small airways.
“If their airway is inflamed and it’s very painful for them to swallow or drink fluids or even breathe, then not getting enough oxygen and certainly not getting enough fluid is a real concern,” said Raethel.
We’ve reached out to day care centers that are keeping a close eye on the situation. And many are following cleaning protocols similar to what they used during the pandemic. Raethel says there have been no significant clusters of RSV infections reported. And while the flu is also now a concern for those on the mainland, he says the wave of flu cases usually arrives here in December.
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“Fortunately here in Hawaii we are able to stay outside and keep our windows open, keep very well ventilated. So that’s one of the reasons why it tends to hit us a little later than it does on the mainland,” said Raethel.