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RSV cases are going down, but New Mexico kids are still getting really sick

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Acting New Mexico Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase said at a briefing Thursday that the peak of the pediatric RSV surge may now be behind us, but the kids who do have it remain sicker than usual.

Scrase presented data showing emergency room visits for RSV, a respiratory virus that surged earlier and in older children than usual this year, have dropped to their lowest point in four weeks.

“While this peak has been relatively short-lived, the level of illness and severity of illness we’re seeing in our children has not actually abated,” he said.

New Mexico Department of Health

University of New Mexico Children’s Hospital Associate Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anna Duran says that severity has led to an unusually high number of children being placed on ventilators in their 20-bed ICU.

“Generally, at any given time, we have between two and four patients who are intubated,” she said. “This morning we had 22 patients in our ICU and 20 of those patients had breathing tubes.”

Duran says the UNMH system continues to operate above capacity with high cases of not only RSV, but flu, COVID, and pneumonia. She says wait times in their ER are “very long” for patients of all ages, with around 10-20 kids and 90-100 adults usually waiting to be seen.

She encouraged parents and guardians to only take a child to the hospital if that’s the level of treatment they require, and to otherwise take them to primary or urgent care, or consider caring for them at home.

Nash Jones (they/them) is a general assignment reporter in the KUNM newsroom and the local host of NPR's All Things Considered (weekdays on KUNM, 5-7 p.m. MT). You can reach them at nashjones@kunm.org or on Twitter @nashjonesradio.
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