TULSA, Okla. — It's that time of year, right after the holidays, when people get the sniffles, coughs, and sore throats.
Here in Tulsa, health providers say they are seeing all kinds of upper respiratory infections, including RSV.
The Tulsa County Health Department says 60,000 kids are diagnosed with RSV each year.
Infections peak right around this time and they are higher than they were last year.
According to data from the CDC, this time last year, close to zero percent of roughly 700 RSV tests came back positive in Oklahoma.
This year, that positivity rate is much higher, peaking in late November with more than 13 percent of some 450 tests coming back positive.
Kennedy Meyers said all four of her children were infected. She said when her youngest contracted RSV, she was worried for her life.
She is grateful her 8-month-old daughter, Indy, is happy and healthy.
Four months ago, she was praying for her well-being because she had contracted RSV.
“Went to the emergency room that night because she couldn’t breathe right. They gave her steroids, within 48 hours she was admitted to the hospital and three days later was in the ICU with it," Meyers said.
Little Indy was on eight liters of oxygen, a feeding tube, steroids, antibiotics, and several IVs.
“She ended up getting pneumonia secondary to R-S-V," Meyers said..
An experience Meyers describes as traumatic and terrifying because just three years ago she had lost her eldest to a lung infection.
He was only two and a half years old.
“My oldest had it had to be in the hospital for three weeks, went home on oxygen, was never able to fully recover until he passed away from a different lung infection," Meyers said.
Dr. Jeff Galles with Hillcrest Medical Center said this year, they are seeing people getting infected at a higher rate.
"Pediatric units are full of kids with RSV, we’re seeing more influenza admissions, we’re seeing an uptick in our COVID admissions, and all of this puts a strain on the hospitals because the emergency rooms just can’t handle the volume,"Galles said.
He said it's also causing shortages of resources like antiviral medications, antibiotics, and cough syrup.
“The challenge now, is like I said, we’ve got people getting exposed all across the community, people are not masking, people are gathering, and so the risk is much worse this year than it’s been in a number of years," Galles said.
He said the youngest and oldest populations are among the most vulnerable when it comes to RSV and the flu because they run a higher risk of complications.
“We’ve been really emphasizing influenza vaccines, you know across the entire population, but especially in our younger populations and in our patients 65 and older," Galles said.
Dr. Galles said if the symptoms are not manageable at home, that's when you should consider taking your child to the emergency room.
“Kids are more challenging because they can get ill pretty quickly. Adults kind have more lead timing to this, but I think the development of shortness of breath would be a good example. Prolonged fevers that are not responding to Tylenol, like medications, nausea and vomiting, not able to hold down medications. Getting dehydrated," Galles said.
Meyers said she always follows her motherly instinct.
“I mean you always know your children, if you’re sent home and you feel like they’re worse, go back," Galles said.
Dr. Galles said we are just in the initial wave of these different kinds of viruses.
He said it's hard to foresee when we will reach the peak.
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