Respiratory syncytial virus, more commonly known as RSV, is sending thousands of children to the hospital across the country.
According to CDC data, California is seeing a spike in RSV detections — a rise in cases not seen since last December and on the Central Coast, the trend is no different.
“RSV tends to be most prevalent from October to April so anytime during that window is pretty common to have RSV spikes. It’s a little on the early side this year," said Dr. Jillian Davenport, Dignity Health Pediatrician.
In just a span of one week, doctors at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo say they've seen a drastic increase in cases.
“We’ve had a least a threefold increase in admissions to the hospital for RSV. Nationally, the trend is every hospital is filling up and we’re right behind that early trend," said Dr. Mathieu Deschutter, chairman of the pediatric department at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center.
Knowing exactly how many RSV cases there are locally can be tricky. Davenport said not all clinics have testing available.
“Certainly in the ER or urgent cares where they have the testing capabilities we’re seeing a good uptick right now," Dr. Davenport explained.
The ideal RSV testing is similar to COVID-19 PCR tests and can take a few days to receive results.
Symptoms for RSV can include wheezing, wet cough, a lot of mucus, and fever.
“We have been seeing a lot of parents being concerned because their kids have had a cold for over the week and it doesn’t seem like it’s made much improvement. Classic RSV tends to be at its worse on the 5th or 6th day of the illness," Davenport said.
With the awareness that there’s a big surge happening nationally, Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center is prepared.
“We have ordered extra equipment and we have a plan to accommodate extra rooms here at Sierra Vista. We have the only pediatric unit in the county," said Dr. Deschutter.
As we get into the winter season, experts say we may see more surges following the one we are currently seeing.
Doctors say following safety protocols such as hand washing and staying home when sick will play a big part in keeping the population healthy.