Baystate Children’s seeing spike in early respiratory virus cases

Baystate Children’s Hospital in Springfield is seeing a spike in early cases of respiratory viruses
Published: Oct. 12, 2022 at 2:42 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 12, 2022 at 4:54 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Baystate Children’s Hopsital in Springfield is seeing a spike in early cases of respiratory viruses and it’s filling their hospital and emergency beds to capacity, so Baystate Health is urging parents to think twice before heading to the E.D.

“They’re surging like it’s the worst winter ever and it’s only early October,” said Dr. Charlotte Boney, pediatrician-in-chief at Baystate Children’s Hospital.

A rise in respiratory bugs is striking early.

“We had more admissions in September to Baystate Children’s Hospital for respiratory disease that in the eight years I’ve been here,” Boney added.

Boney told Western Mass News that COVID-19 disrupted the typical pattern of seasonal viruses, resulting in the earlier-than-usual spike of respiratory illnesses.

“So it’s like kids who haven’t seen these viruses because of all the infection control practices for the last couple of years, these viruses are back and making people sicker than they ever have before,” Boney noted.

Boney told us their emergency department is filled with children and half of them have rhinovirus, the primary cause of the common cold. RSV is also on the rise. It starts like a cold, but can spread to the lungs and is very dangerous for babies and toddlers.

“…But right now, our emergency room is full of folks that have these respiratory illnesses but aren’t quite that sick,” Boney explained.

With full capacity causing long wait times, she said to think twice before coming to the emergency room and call your pediatrician first if your child has symptoms including a runny nose, cough, fever, or sore throat.

Go to the emergency department if your child has difficulty breathing, isn’t drinking or urinating, their fever isn’t improving, or they have underlying medical problems, like asthma.

“When those symptoms become severe, particularly the cough, you start having trouble breathing you can’t catch your breath,” Boney said.

Boney said she’s especially concerned about this spike in illnesses as all signs point to a bad flu season, which hasn’t even begun yet.

“So we’re really worried about the winter and flu, so please people, get your flu vaccine, get a COVID-19 booster if you’re eligible and remember all those infectious control practices that worked for COVID-19 will work for these for viruses too,” Boney said.

Also of note, Australia, where winter spans April to October, is having the worst flu season they’ve seen in five years, which U.S. health officials said could be a sign of what’s to come.