Respiratory disease: RS virus – many children’s clinics are full

Status: 31.10.2021 10:41 a.m.

Cough and shortness of breath: Small children and infants in particular are affected by the RS virus – a respiratory disease that can be severe. In some federal states the clinics are full.

The RS virus is spreading earlier this year than usual – and apparently more children are infected than usual in some federal states. As in Bavaria, where the disease occurs extremely often in children at the moment – so much so that the children’s hospitals hardly have any free beds. “All clinics are at the attack,” reported the state chairman of the professional association of paediatricians, Dominik Ewald, dpa news agency. At the same time he reassured: “Nobody has declared an absolute state of emergency. The supply is not at risk because we can still manage it somehow.”

Also a consequence of Corona and the lockdown

The current situation does not come as a surprise to paediatricians. “We had expected this wave of the RS virus to come. It is relatively clear that now that the children are allowed to interact again and we have three cohorts who meet in kindergartens and because of the lockdown there is no exchange of infections had three times as many children get sick as usual, “explained Ewald. “Now they are all going through what normally only one year would go through at once.”

Risk to premature babies, infants and young children

The RS virus – short for respiratory syncytial virus – is a respiratory disease that can be difficult for adults too. But it is especially dangerous for premature babies, infants and small children. These can get extremely severe pneumonia. According to the Robert Koch Institute, 0.2 percent of sick children die without a known increased risk, a good 1 percent of sick premature babies and more than 5 percent of affected children with congenital heart defects.

There are also cold viruses

Infections have been rampant among kids since Whitsun, but the RS virus has hit particularly hard since the end of the summer holidays. “Now there are also the various cold viruses, in addition to RSV, for example, influenza and rhinoviruses,” said Ewald. In itself, the pediatrician emphasized that this is not a cause for concern. “Healthy children can get through such an infection.” only that many children catch one infection after the other and are then too weak to be able to do much to counter the RS virus.

Only symptoms treatable

Since no antibiotic can help against the virus, doctors can only treat the symptoms. Less severe infections are usually not recognized as such, which is why the virus, which has been circulating for a long time, is not known by name to many laypeople. The supposedly harmless cough can certainly have consequences: “It is fatal that the infection can cause certain changes in the lungs, which can also lead to long-term problems,” explained Ewald. The sick later suffered more frequently from asthma or an over-sensitivity of the bronchi.

Clinics in Saxony-Anhalt “extremely full”

The virus is also rampant in Saxony-Anhalt: “The children’s departments are extremely full of this RS virus,” said Wolfgang Schütte, President of the Saxony-Anhalt Hospital Association, the dpa news agency. In some cases, children’s wards no longer have any space. The children’s ward of the municipal clinic in Dessau is well used. Since RSV really started in mid-September, an average of 25 percent of the beds with children with the virus have been occupied, said Stefan Fest, the chief physician at the Clinic for Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. According to the information, there are significantly more cases compared to the previous year.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania: Unusual accumulation of cases

Last week, all of the larger clinics in northeast Germany reportedly had children between 0 and 4 years of age with an RSV infection being treated. In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the clinics in Schwerin, Rostock and Neubrandenburg also confirmed an unusual accumulation of cases compared to other years, but nowhere was any imminent overload reported.

Currently there are actually many more relatively severe infections in one and two-year-olds, confirmed Claudius Werner, pediatrician at the Helios-Klinikum Schwerin.

Clinics in North Rhine-Westphalia also treat many children

It is no different in North Rhine-Westphalia. The clinics there are currently observing a high number of children who are treated with respiratory diseases in the hospitals. “We are at the limit in the entire Ruhr area,” reported Dominik Schneider, director of the Dortmund children’s clinic. Clinics in Münster, Düsseldorf, Duisburg and Cologne are also observing an early and strong wave of illness.

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