Doctor: Children’s hospitals because of respiratory infections at the limit
There are hardly any cots left in the clinics of some federal states. An emergency doctor speaks of a “dramatic epidemic event”.
Because of increasing cases of infections with the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in children in Germany, a pediatrician is sounding the alarm.
It is a “dramatic epidemic event” in the northern hemisphere, said the children’s intensive care and emergency doctor Florian Hoffmann of the German Press Agency. He is Secretary General of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DIVI) and Senior Physician in the Dr. from Hauner Children’s Hospital in Munich.
In several federal states, including Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony, there is hardly a free cot in clinics, said Hoffmann. The underlying problem is a lack of staff, so that not all existing beds can also be operated. Hoffmann spoke of “disaster conditions” – families with sick children sometimes had to sleep on a bunk in the emergency room. That is a sign of poverty for Germany. Many affected children are seriously ill and need to be ventilated.
Values go “vertically up”
There had already been an unusually high RSV wave in late summer 2021 – but the situation is currently worse, said Hoffmann. Many children aged one or two are now affected, who – also in view of the corona pandemic and the measures taken against it – have had no contact with the RSV. Hoffmann said about the trend in small children: “It’s no longer a curve, but the values are going up vertically.”
According to the definition of the Robert Koch Institute, the RSV wave began in the week up to October 16th. A report on Wednesday said: “In young children in particular, the further increase in RSV activity is leading to increased doctor consultations and hospitalizations.” Hoffmann also spoke of a very early and very severe flu wave, which has been noticeable in parallel for some time.
Regarding the situation in pediatric intensive care, Divi wants to present new figures in Hamburg next week – and the associated demands and proposed solutions to improve the care of seriously ill children. “We won’t be able to take care of everyone this winter. Our colleagues across the country don’t know what to do with our little patients.” Structures to deal with the situation are not in place and the existing registers for the bed situation are often not up to date due to a lack of time. “We should now actually activate emergency mechanisms, for example call in nursing staff from adult medicine.”
You can get RSV at any age, but the pathogen is particularly important in infants and small children. It can be a simple respiratory infection, but severe courses up to death are also possible. The RKI counts, for example, premature babies and children with previous lung diseases as high-risk patients, but also people with immunodeficiency or suppressed immune systems in general.
The RKI states, citing estimates, that RSV respiratory diseases occur worldwide with an incidence of 48.5 cases and 5.6 severe cases per 1000 children in the first year of life. Normally, 50 to 70 percent would have had at least one infection with RSV within the first year of life and almost all children by the end of the second year of life. In the course of the corona protection measures, many such infections were temporarily absent.