'It’s happening earlier': RSV cases fill up metro Detroit hospitals

Posted at 12:04 AM, Nov 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-11 00:06:53-05

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WXYZ) — Nearly 2 months ago, a few dozen children a week were coming to Corewell Health East, formerly known as Beaumont Health Hospital, with cases of RSV. But now, hundreds of children each week are showing up with RSV As cases in metro Detroit continue to climb.

“He was quite sick. He had a fever, he was breathing heavily,” parent Sarah Waidelich of Ann Arbor said.

She has seen the rapid spread of RSV firsthand. Her children already struggled with asthma when her 10-month-old son contracted RSV.

“It was incredibly concerning, especially since they already have, both of our children already have respiratory issues. I think it’s a miracle we didn’t end up in the hospital,” she said.

She took her son to an urgent care in Chelsea knowing the emergency room at nearby Mott Children's Hospital was filling up. The hospital says their pediatric beds are now 100% full, thanks to the rise in RSV.

“This is not a new virus. What is new this year is that it’s happening earlier,” Birmingham pediatrician Dr. Molly O’Shea said.

She says RSV usually peaks after Christmas, but her office is now seeing three times the number of sick children than normal. She believes it may be from isolation during the pandemic

“Everybody’s immune system is sort of naive again. It hasn’t seen anything for a while and so as soon as it sees something, it latches on and RSV is now easier to get,” O’Shea said.

Corewell Health East has seen a dramatic increases in cases, going from roughly 30 a week in mid-September to now nearly 600 a week.

O’Shea says it can be more severe in kids under 3.

“If your child is having difficulty breathing, if they’re coughing so hard they’re throwing up, if they’re really not eating well and drinking well, both, then they really need to be seen,” she said.

Ss for Waidelich, her son is now feeling nearly 100% better. She’s sending support to other families still battling the virus.

“I don't have any advice or tips. Just hang in there, trust your gut as a parent,” Waidelich said. “Well wishes I send to the kids and families going through it because it’s very difficult.”

O’Shea says she thankfully hasn’t had to send any of her patients to the hospital because they’ve been aggressively treating it in the office. She says the main reason kids need to be hospitalized is if they aren’t getting enough oxygen or they are dehydrated and need an IV.