FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Health officials nationwide are starting to see the effects of increased RSV cases as hospitals are starting to reach capacity and local hospitals are preparing for a possible surge of pediatric patients by training staff to care for younger patients than normal
RSV cases are not on the rise in the Central Valley just yet, but regardless health officials are taking the time now to educate staff and prepare them for an earlier season of winter illnesses.
"When it's full, it's full and the hospitals have to take on pediatric patients that sometimes they're just not used to holding and keeping in their facility," explained Dan Lynch, EMS Director with Fresno County.
Normally hospitals have the option of transferring patients to Valley Children's Hospital but as RSV is starting to spread in the state, that may not be an option if hospital beds fill up.
"We are earlier than usual in having a situation where beds are full, So I came in this morning and I'm one of the inpatient teams. My team is full, our respiratory unit is fully, and there were 5-7 kids in the emergency room waiting for beds," said April Zaat, Pediatric Hospitalist with UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland.
In the Central Valley the situation is not a dire, but health professionals are being proactive and prepping teams to learn about treatments available.
"We can actually give antibodies against RSV for at-risk babies, because we know babies can do really poorly," explained Dr. Rais Vohra, Interim Health Officer with Fresno County Department of Public Health.
"They're all training getting up to speed with being prepared in anticipating that they are going to be holding more pediatric patients over the coming months because of this influx of the RSV and things like that," added Lynch
As RSV cases climb, doctors also remind people that now is the best time for your flu and booster shot to remain proactive.
"The pediatric hospitals nationwide are all kind of sounding this alarm that they are seeing a lot of kids hospitalized with respiratory illnesses, not just covid, " said Dr. Vohra
RSV can also be harmful for older adults and usually people are contagious for up to eight days, there is no vaccine, but some are currently being tested.