6-year-old child with RSV dies as hospitals see alarming rise in new virus cases

Michigan health officials confirmed this week that a 6-year-old child died after developing complications from RSV or respiratory syncytial virus.

The child is said to be a young boy from the Detroit area.

Hospitals across the country have seen an alarming increase in RSV cases, especially among children, in recent weeks. The virus causes cold-like symptoms such as a runny nose, cough, fever and loss of appetite, but infants and the elderly (65 and older) can develop more severe cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We have seen about a 500% increase in positive tests in children admitted for upper respiratory tract infections,” Dr. Matthew Denenberg, chief of pediatrics at Corewell Health East in Michigan, told “Good Morning America”.

The CDC notes that RSV-related deaths are, for the most part, rare.

“Very, very few children die from RSV, and the children who get that sick, it’s usually a child who has an underlying disease,” Denenberg added.

In New York, the pediatric intensive care unit at Cohen Children’s Medical Center is operating at overcapacity with more cases than usual.

“We’re giving a lot of support which often requires inhaled therapies – sometimes steroids, sometimes breathing machines like ventilators until the virus itself gets out,” said Dr James Schneider, chief of intensive care. pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, known as “GMA”.

Ella, the 3-year-old daughter of Anita Ghiam, has been treated at Cohen Children’s since Sunday for RSV and had to be placed on a ventilator.

Ghiam told “GMA” that she tries to stay positive.

PICTURED: Anita Ghiam speaks to ABC News' Erielle Reshef about seeing her child in the hospital with RSV.

ABC News

Anita Ghiam speaks to ABC News’ Erielle Reshef about seeing her child in the hospital with RSV.

“I try to keep my spirits up for her,” Ghiam said. “Nobody wants to see their child in this situation.”

Currently, there is no approved vaccine or specific treatment for RSV in the United States. In Europe, the European Commission this week approved a new monoclonal antibody injection, Beyfortus, intended to provide partial immunity to newborns and babies up to 1 year old. Although similar to a vaccine in that it provides a level of immunity to those who receive the vaccine, this injection delivers the antibodies directly to babies rather than boosting their immune system to create the antibodies themselves. In short, while it can completely prevent some RSV infections, the real purpose of this antibody injection is to prevent severe RSV in babies, which can lead to hospitalization.

The single injection is not available in the United States, but pharmaceutical companies Sanofi and AstraZeneca, which jointly manufacture the preventative injection, hope it could be ready next year. The injection should be approved by the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration.

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