RSV virus outbreak: Children's hospitals overwhelmed by sick kids

Cases of respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV, have exploded across the nation, overwhelming hospitals with sick children.

The problem has become so bad for Connecticut Children's Hospital in Hartford that they say they are considering calling in the National Guard and FEMA for help. 

"I’ve been doing this a long time," Dr. Juan Salazar, the hospitals executive vice president and physician-in-chief told CNN. "I’ve been at Connecticut Children’s for 25 years, and I’ve never seen this level of surge specifically for RSV coming into our hospital," 

The hospital has reportedly been slammed with RSV cases since September, and is currently over-capacity due to RSV cases.

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According to the CDC, RSV season is normally in January and February, so the current surge is unusual.

"Because of the pandemic and people isolating themselves from each other, several of these young children did not develop an immune response to these ordinary, common, everyday viruses," said Dr. Sankaran Krishnan, a pediatric pulmonologist at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital in Valhalla, New York. 

RSV outbreak

A look at which states are seeing major increases in RSV cases across the nation. 

Despite the surge in cases, Dr. Krishnan says she doesn't want parents to panic. RSV usually causes mild cold-like symptoms, including a runny nose, congestion, and a mild fever. His advice to parents is to keep an eye out for the most severe symptoms.

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"High fever or breathing fast or having a persistent cough that does not get better, or the child is not able to eat or feed properly. Then the first step would be to seek medical attention," Dr. Krishnan said. 

Most children under the age of 6 get 5-8 colds year, which Dr. Krishnan says is part of growing up.