Michigan boy, 6, dies of RSV amid surge straining hospitals nationwide

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, November 3, 2022
Boy, 6, dies of RSV amid surge straining hospitals nationwide
A 6-year-old boy from Michigan has died from respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, amid a surge of infections in children across the country.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A 6-year-old boy from Michigan has died from respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, amid a surge of infections in children across the country.

The boy was hospitalized at Corewell Health Beaumont Troy Hospital in the Detroit suburbs when he died at 3:41 a.m. Wednesday.

This is not the first pediatric RSV death of the season. Every year an estimated 100 to 500 children die from complications of the respiratory illness, according to the CDC.

RSV infections are also seen in adults, causing about 14,000 annual deaths in the U.S. in adults over 65, the CDC said.

Deaths associated with RSV are most frequently occurring in those under a year old and those 65 and older.

SEE ALSO | Is the US facing a potential 'tripledemic' of flu, RSV and COVID-19?

Researchers are now looking into an RSV vaccine for pregnant women, which would offer protection to their newborn babies.

The news comes as Chicago's top doctor is warning about RSV, the flu and COVID causing major concern for children as hospitals are already being stretched thin.

In her weekly update, Dr. Allison Arwady showed just how hard RSV and other illnesses are hitting children in Chicago.

"Right now, we've got highest number of respiratory child hospitalization that we've seen in total over a few years, really breaking some records there," Arwady said. "Our pediatric ICU capacity is especially stretched."

SEE ALSO | As RSV cases and hospitalizations surge, only 6 percent of pediatric ICU beds are open in Illinois

Researchers now think help might on the way. Pfizer says its vaccine against RSV is safe for pregnant women and effective in helping protect their babies.

"This is a tremendous breakthrough," said Bill Gruber, a senior vice president and head of vaccine clinical research and development at Pfizer.

The vaccine would be given to expecting mothers in the late second to third trimester in one shot. They would then pass the antibodies to their babies.

SEE ALSO | 'Tripledemic' of flu, RSV, COVID could result in 'explosion' of sick patients, Chicago doctors warn

"RSV has a significant impact in our pediatric population with over 50,000 hospitalizations each year in kids under the age of 5," ABC News contributor Dr. Jonathan Brownstein said.

The pharmaceutical company said early studies show 82% efficacy in preventing severe sickness during the first 90 days of life, and 69% efficacy through the first six months.

"RSV infects everyone, but among young children are those that are most susceptible are those in the first few months of life we have a high probability now of protecting against serious illness and hospitalization," Gruber said.

Makenzie Mikels says her 3-month-old son Everett came down with RSV and ended up hospitalized for four days.

"It was pretty scary, you know, sitting there watching him breathe," Mikels said. "I'm just glad we got it as early as we did. Or it could have been worse."

Many hospitals across the country are feeling the strain amid a spike in respiratory illnesses, including RSV and the flu.

About 76% of the nation's 40,000 pediatric hospitals beds are totally full, with eight states reporting more than 90% of their pediatric beds are occupied.

In Illinois, as of late last week, 94% of pediatric ICU beds were full. Dr. Arwady said she's concerned things could get worse.

"If we add the likely increase that we'll see with COVID and influenza like we've seen in prior winters, that's really gonna be a problem," Arwady said.

Although the new vaccine won't be available in time to help this current spike, the FDA and CDC could give the greenlight for next year.