Hospitals at capacity amid RSV surge: Texas ED sees 500 patients a day

Nearly all pediatric hospital beds in a North Texas region are full amid a surge in respiratory syncytial virus. Nationwide, the positivity rate has increased from nearly 5% in mid-October to over 10%. 

As of Nov. 10, officials in the Dallas-Fort Worth region said more than 97% of the area's pediatric beds were occupied, with medical centers treating hundreds of patients a day, The Dallas Morning News reported. 

The emergency department at Fort Worth Cook Children's is treating about 500 patients a day with RSV and other respiratory viruses. More than 200 patients at the medical center tested positive for RSV during the first week of November. With overcrowding a significant challenge, five intensive care unit patients had to be held in the ED on Nov. 6 as they waited for beds to become available. 

"This year, RSV seems to be hitting harder and our patients are sicker," Taylor Louden, MD, medical director of the ED at Cook Children's, told The Dallas Morning News. "We're tying up our ICU beds a lot sooner than we were last year during this time."

Officials across Atlanta hospitals have also reported a spike. With trends in the South often a harbinger of what's in store for the rest of the nation, hospitals have been bracing for capacity strain this respiratory virus season. 

The pediatric community was largely betting on a new monoclonal antibody to curb hospital admissions from severe RSV among babies this viral season, though it's unlikely to have such an effect amid ongoing supply shortages. In October, the CDC urged clinicians to ration supply of nirsevimab for infants at highest risk of severe disease. Officials with the CDC and Sanofi, the drug's manufacturer, have said they are working together to ease supply issues, according to ABC News. Meanwhile, some physicians are having to turn families away. 

"We are frustrated," Anita Hendersen, MD, of the Pediatric Clinic and Hattiesburg, Miss., told ABC News. "Pediatricians are frustrated by this constant change [of recommendations], inequitable access, and the lack of availability." 

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