Surge in child RSV cases stretches Portland metro hospitals thin

Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 4:46 PM PST
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Local hospitals and public health officials are sounding the alarm over a public health crisis among children and infants.

Just in the last week, the Oregon Health Authority reports the percent positivity rate of RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) tests has nearly doubled statewide

In the last day, Legacy Randall Children’s Hospital and Doernbecher Children’s, both in the Portland area, have gone into “crisis standards of care” to help with the influx of RSV patients.

Multnomah County Public Health officials said at a briefing Wednesday many of those at risk of being hospitalized with RSV are aged 6 months to 3 years old. Dr. Jennifer Vines, lead health officer, says the surge in RSV cases is reminiscent of the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I’ve been the health officer through the entire pandemic, and today feels very similar to past moments where things have been particularly serious.”

Vines adds nearly a quarter to three-quarters of hospitalizations right now are among children and infants suffering from RSV.

Hospitals and public health officials say simple steps can be taken to try and reduce the risk of RSV spread, such as not attending gatherings if you’re feeling sick, keeping hands washed, wearing masks, and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.

Dr. Ann Loeffler with Multnomah county public health says while RSV is usually common, social distancing measures forced by Covid-19 the last two years has likely contributed to a surge in RSV cases because fewer people were being exposed.

“The young children who normally would’ve gotten RSV maybe every winter haven’t gotten it the last couple years,” said Loeffler. “And more toddler, pre-school, school age kids are getting it and they’re bringing it home to the little babies”