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As RSV cases rise, 67 pediatric ICU beds available in all of Texas

Cases of RSV continue to strain hospitals across the country. As of Wednesday, Texas has 67 open pediatric ICU beds across the entire state.

HOUSTON — Cases of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, are continuing to strain hospitals across the county.

Texas hospitals are also seeing an earlier-than-normal surge in cases. On Wednesday, Texas had just 67 open pediatric ICU beds across the entire state.

RSV is a common respiratory virus. For most, it causes mild cold symptoms, but for young children, especially those aged 2 and younger, it can cause serious illness or death. RSV can restrict airways and lung function. It can also be dangerous for the elderly and those with pulmonary complications.

“For those people, this infection can be very severe,” said Dr. Luis Ostrosky, the chief of infectious diseases at UT Health and Memorial Hermann.

Many states are reporting limited or even no available pediatric ICU beds because of this unusually early surge.

“I think, nationally, this is a crisis,” said Ostrosky. “Locally, we are seeing an important increase in the number of cases but, so far, Memorial Hermann and any other hospital system in the city is able to cope with the volume.”

Ostrosky said that as cases surge in Houston, emergency room wait times remain long.

For Emily Vedia, a Houston area mother, the past 11 days have been traumatizing as her 2-month-old son, Jeremy, fights RSV on a ventilator at Texas Children’s Hospital.

Vedia rushed Jeremy to Texas Children’s the day after as diagnosed as he struggled to breathe.  She says doctors acted immediately.

“They had me rushed to the back with my son and they were calling codes on the loudspeaker,” she remembered. “So, that was horrible. It was bad.”

Ostrosky said one reason for the surge in cases is that people aren’t staying home when they’re sick anymore like so many did at the height of COVID. It seems COVID fatigue has spilled over to other viruses.

“We lost our culture of staying home when you’re sick,” said Ostrosky.

RSV symptoms include wheezing, fever, a croup cough and trouble breathing. Ostrosky recommends that children with symptoms be tested as soon as possible so that supportive treatments like steroids, can begin if necessary.  

Vedia says her son Jeremy is doing better and doctors plan to try to take him off the ventilator on Thursday. As for any long-term impacts, they’ll just have to wait and see.

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