KALISPELL - A respiratory virus that can cause serious illness in young children is spreading across the country — and is drawing concerns from health officials in Western Montana.
“Ten to 15 RSV admissions a week is probably about accurate,” said Logan Health Pediatric Physician Dr. Tim Stidham.
That’s up from an average of two cases per week at Logan Health Children’s Hospital in Kalispell less than one month ago.
“Of kids with respiratory symptoms that are admitted to the hospital I would say just roughly about 75-80% are positive for RSV,” added Dr. Stidham.
Dr. Stidham says RSV is a respiratory virus that can cause serious illness in young children, including pneumonia and severe breathing issues.
“A higher volume of kids are getting sick, and the kids that are getting sick tend to be getting more sick than usual, so that’s leading obviously to a surge in admissions, E.R. visits and even I.C.U. admissions across the country,” said Dr. Stidham.
Dr. Alex Kon, a Pediatric Critical Care Physician at Community Medical Center in Missoula says RSV combined with other viruses, even common colds, is a recipe for disaster.
“Once a child gets one of these viruses it decreases their ability to fight off other infections as well, so a lot of these kids can come in really very, very sick,” added Dr. Kon.
Dr. Kon says hospitals across the state are working closely together on an RSV surge plan, assisting one another if they run out of room or critical care staff.
“Everyone’s working really hard to find wherever we can put these kids and give them great care in-state, that’s what we’re trying to do,” said Dr. Kon.
Dr. Stidham says the number of severe RSV cases at Logan Health is high, compared to years past.
“Lots of suctioning of their nose, sometimes deeper suctioning of their nose, high flow nasal cannula, even breathing machines, ventilators, etc,” said Dr. Stidham.
Dr, Kon says RSV is often mild in adults, but adults need to be extra cautious around young children if they’re experiencing cold-like symptoms.
“So just being really aware if you have any sort of a cough or illness or fever to be really careful around kids, try and stay home and not interact with very young kids becomes really important, just try to keep our kids as safe as possible,” added Dr. Kon.
Dr. Stidham says a great telehealth resource for concerned parents can be found at montanapediatrics.org.