Oregon is Experiencing a Surge in Respiratory Illnesses
Oregon is experiencing a surge in RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), influenza, and other viral illnesses in children at very high levels. This increase in sickness is putting a strain on the ability of primary care clinics and pediatric hospitals to provide timely care for sick children. The Governor has declared a public health emergency. Models are predicting that this surge will peak sometime in December, and then will continue for several more months.
All the children’s hospitals and pediatric clinics in the region, including Metropolitan Pediatrics, are above full capacity. This is affecting our appointment availability and call-back times from advice nurses and physicians. Please allow up to 3 hours for a call back from medical advice. If you call the office at the end of the day, we may not be able to return the call until the next morning.
Most children do fine with RSV, influenza, or COVID. See below for information on when to seek medical care and how to make your child more comfortable.
What is RSV?
RSV is a common virus that causes mild cold or flu-like symptoms in most people. It can also be very dangerous for newborns and young children, as well as those with weakened immune systems, as the illness can progress to pneumonia.
When should you seek medical care?
It is not necessary to have a test for RSV. It is not treated with antibiotics. If your child is doing okay with breathing and taking fluids, an appointment is not necessary. Use the comfort measures outlined below.
Patients should seek immediate care if they experience labored breathing; shallow or rapid breaths; wheezing; dehydration (may include a decrease in wet diapers); when lips, tongue, or skin turn gray or blue; or a significant decrease in activity or alertness. Do not go to the emergency room for mild symptoms.
Contact your pediatrician when your child has a fever of 103°F or higher, a fever that lasts more than 3 days, or signs of an ear infection. Make an appointment when symptoms don’t improve after 7 days.
How can I make my child more comfortable?
While there is no prescriptive treatment for RSV, supportive over-the-counter products can make the patient more comfortable. Remedies include acetaminophen or ibuprofen (for kids over 6 months of age) for fever and aches, saline nose spray and gentle suction for nasal irritation, plenty of fluids for necessary hydration, and warm soups for nutrition.
Why are we seeing so much RSV and influenza?
The preventive measures that were used to reduce the spread of COVID-19 also reduced the spread of RSV, colds, and flu. Without those measures in place, these viruses are now spreading quickly among children who haven’t developed immunities from being exposed over the past few years.
What can I do to prevent influenza?
It’s not too late to get a flu shot for everyone in your family 6 months of age and older. Influenza can be very dangerous for young children and children with underlying medical conditions. We’re expecting influenza to continue to circulate in the community at least until spring. Getting immunized reduces the chance of serious illness and complications.
How can I protect my family from RSV?
The best ways to prevent RSV are the same ways we prevent COVID-19, flu, and other seasonal illnesses:
- Stay away from people who are sick
- Wash hands often
- Consider wearing a mask (ages 2+) in crowded indoor places
- Clean and disinfect surfaces people touch frequently
- Stay up to date on all vaccines, like the flu shot and COVID-19 booster shots
- For infants, avoid frequent visitors and crowds
What should you do if you’re worried about your child?
If you’re concerned with your child’s symptoms, give us a call at 1-833-PDX-KIDS (1-833-739-5437). Our advice nurses are also available to support you 24 hours a day. We’re very sorry if you experience longer hold times as we’re working hard to listen to each patient and their needs. Metro Pediatrics offers same-day sick visits on a first-come basis and schedules those appointments up to 24 hours in advance. Your child’s health is our top priority, and we’ll do everything we can to help them feel better.