An earlier-than-normal and more virulent form of RSV in South Dakota is causing serious sickness in young children, raising fears that pediatric intensive care units might become overloaded.
RSV, a highly infectious sickness for under-2-year-olds, peaks in January and February.
Avera and Sanford health systems reported increased RSV clinic visits and hospital admissions in late October and early November, with the sickest patients on ventilators.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that over 20% of RSV tests were positive for the week ending Oct. 29, almost twice as many as in early October.
Kara Bruning, chief of pediatrics at Avera McKennan in Sioux Falls, says the number "looks modest" compared to what state physicians are experiencing.
According to Sanford Children's Hospital vice president and medical officer Joe Segeleon, the pediatric critical care unit is around 75% full and may handle patient overflow in other units.