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RSV activity steadily rising in Wisconsin, pediatric RSV injection in short supply

A rise in viral illnesses recently prompted Children's Wisconsin to tighten its visitor policy.
Posted at 1:01 PM, Nov 09, 2023

MILWAUKEE — A rise in viral illnesses recently prompted Children's Wisconsin to tighten its visitor policy.

Over the last week, Children's Wisconsin reported an average of 10 hospitalizations per day for patients who test positive for RSV.

"The point is to protect our patients and others who are in our hospital and our clinic settings as well," the president of Children's Medical Group Dr. Michael Gutzeit explained.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reports since November 1st there have been 49 RSV-associated hospitalizations, 75 percent of those patients were under 5 years old.

Thankfully, no RSV-associated deaths have been reported.

"We saw it jump up quite a bit in October. So here we are, you know, the first week of November. We're seeing a rapid increase that we might see it spike and stay peaked well into December and January," medical director of Aurora Children's Health Dr. Kevin Dahlman said.

Doctors say RSV is the number one reason for hospitalizations in children under age 1.

Meanwhile, a newly approved RSV monoclonal antibody injection to prevent the illness in the youngest children is in short supply nationwide.

Health providers are eagerly waiting to get it to more patients.

"We have not yet received a single dose. We have our orders out and pending and currently on hold due to manufacturing supply issues," Dr. Dahlman stated.

"It is very fluid at the moment. We would like to have as much to give to everybody. We'll follow the Centers for Disease Control priority system in terms of who will get the injection," Dr. Gutzeit said.

While health providers and families wait doctors say the key is prevention which includes getting a flu shot.

"Normally, when we see a respiratory illness season. It is complicated by several different respiratory viruses at the same time, and what we can vaccinate against is only going to benefit those that are protected," Dr. Dahlman said.

"Wash your hands frequently. If you're ill, stay home, stay away from other people, drink plenty of fluids," Dr. Gutzeit added.

Doctors recommend pregnant women who do have access to an RSV vaccine to get it because that protection will pass on to the baby.

DHS said it is working with providers to equitably distribute the pediatric RSV injection.