GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says it is seeing a lot of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) cases around the state.
"Cases of RSV have gone up earlier than we usually see them going up," said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Chief Medical Executive with MDHHS. "This is likely because the last two years have been fairly quiet."
"We're not just talking about COVID-19 anymore, we're not just talking about the flu, not even just RSV, we're talking about all of those viruses that like to circulate indoors in close quarters," Bagdasarian said.
RSV can impact people of all ages in addition to older children and adults who are healthy and don't have a history of medical problems.
Schools across Michigan are also feeling the impact of illness.
Grand Rapids Public Schools says it is still seeing COVID-19 cases across the district but cases are stable.
"We're nowhere near where we were last fall in terms of number of COVID-19 cases but it is still circulating," said Kirstyn Wade, a GRPS registered nurse and Nurse Supervisor of Grand Rapids Public Schools.
Wade said GRPS is now starting to see an uptick in other respiratory viruses whether that's a common cold or a flu or virus going around as well.
"As it stands right now, we're not seeing any of our students with any severe cases or requiring hospitalization, which is great," Wade said.
In Metro Detroit, the superintendent of Harper Woods says they noticed back in October that between 40-60 elementary school-aged children were out sick.
Superintendent Steven McGhee says at first he assumed it was due to COVID-19 but now says it could have possibly been elementary and middle school level students sick with RSV.
"I had principals call out to parents and many of them kept kids home because of colds," McGhee said, which is better than kids coming to school contagious and getting others sick.
Last week, Helen DeVos Children's Hospital said its seen a more than 300% increase in RSV cases in the last month.
"So this is a problem in those who are very young and also those who are elderly or immunocompromised," Bagdasarian said. "What we're seeing right now is that our hospitals and our pediatric hospitals are filling up with those under the age of four and we really think about those who are most at risk being those under the age of one."
MDHHS says for children under the age of one, RSV can be a more devastating illness where you can actually start seeing signs of decreased appetite, wheezing, lethargy, and some of these infants that need hospital care, they need oxygen support, some of them end up in the ICU, and even meeting ventilators.
Corewell Health says it had to expand its pediatric intensive care unit to handle more patients.
"Pediatric hospitals are really telling us that they are at capacity, and they are facing staffing issues," Bagdasarian said. "We've got to keep our hospitals open and able to serve us as best they can and if our hospitals are full of individuals with viral illnesses, that means it's harder to get care for other things."
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