Hospitals affected due to rise in RSV cases in Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW) — Oregon health leaders are warning about what some of them are calling a “triple-demic” of COVID-19, flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) this upcoming winter season.

“We do expect all three of these pathogens — COVID-19, influenza and RSV to circulate during this respiratory season at higher levels than we’ve experienced over the last two years,” said Dr. Tom Jeanne a deputy state epidemiologist with the Oregon Health Authority.

Jeanne said the rise in cases is due to many people not wearing facemasks anymore and not practicing social distancing in crowded places. Oregon has seen triple the number of infants and children being admitted to hospitals this fall with RSV.

“We don’t know yet if this RSV or influenza season will be more severe in Oregon than pre-pandemic seasons,” said Jeanne. “But nationally we are seeing some alarming trends of early and in some cases very high circulation of both of those viruses.”

RSV is similar to a cold. Symptoms include coughing, trouble breathing and a fever but can be incredibly serious for infants and children and people over 65 years old.

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It’s transmitted through direct contact, coughing and sneezing and by touching contaminated surfaces.

Earlier this week, KGW spoke with the mother of a 7-month-old baby girl, fighting for her life at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital with RSV.

Hospital beds and NICU units are running low in Oregon. There are currently 34 pediatric non-ICU beds available out of 267, four pediatric ICU beds out of 40, and 36 neonatal ICU beds available out of 227, according to OHA.

“Influenza will add to the pressure that will be placed on hospitals in health systems,” said Jeanne. “Already dealing with the increase in other respiratory viruses.”

On Wednesday OHA sent out an alert to healthcare providers and hospitals around the state letting them know about the rise in cases and to best prepare by increasing staffing, supplies and capacity.

RELATED: Portland doctor seeing increase in RSV cases

Experts predict COVID-19 this winter won’t be as severe as last year, thanks to high levels of immunity. But warn case numbers could rise this holiday season as many will be together with friends and family.

Jeanne is encouraging everyone to get their flu and COVID shots alongside the boosters to best protect yourself.

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