The waiting rooms of the paediatricians and the children’s wards of the clinics are full – the lockdown is to blame
Frankfurt – You have a cough, runny nose, sore throat and fever – in particularly bad cases you cannot breathe: In many families, the youngest are currently sick. But the reason for this is not Corona, but a different virus: the “Respiratory Syncytial Virus”, or RSV for short. An unusually high number of infants and toddlers are currently infected with it. Many have to be treated as inpatients in the hospital. The paediatricians’ waiting rooms are full. The same goes for the children’s wards in the clinics. In Frankfurt too.
155 children in the practice every day
“It’s hell,” says Burkhard Voigt, a resident pediatrician with a practice in Bockenheim and deputy chairman of the Hessian state association of paediatricians. “The virus is invading us right now.” Would he have to admit one child with suspected RSV to hospital every month during the winter months? “Now it’s one or two a week.” Just recently he had to send a three-year-old boy to a clinic in an ambulance. “He couldn’t get any more air, needed oxygen.”
According to the pediatrician, it is not only the RS virus that is currently rampant, all viral infections are currently spreading at lightning speed. “I currently treat 155 children in my practice every day,” says Voigt. “Of these, 130 have an infection.” I’ve really never seen that before. “
Other doctors also confirm this. And they all have the same explanation for this: the corona pandemic and the numerous lockdowns in the past year and a half have died. “The children had fewer contacts last winter,” says Dr. Kay Latta, chief physician of general pediatric and adolescent medicine at the Clementine Children’s Hospital. “Even if they had mild cold symptoms, they were taken out of the care facility.” So there were unnaturally few infections overall – and accordingly also a lower development of antibodies. “This is now having an impact with the dismantling of the contact restrictions, especially since RS viruses are highly contagious, also compared to Covid-19,” explains Latta.
In the last three weeks alone, almost 50 patients have been treated with the RS virus in the Clementine Children’s Hospital. “We will admit the first inpatients as early as the beginning of September,” says Latta. That is around eight weeks earlier than usual. “In normal winter months, we admitted a total of around 90 patients with RS viruses.” Currently, the numbers would fluctuate daily, but were always between six and twelve patients who were infected with the virus. So far, however, no children have been referred to other hospitals when. “However, other clinics in the Frankfurt area refer patients to us,” he reports.
Some clinics have to turn away patients
The Höchst Clinic, for example, had to turn away children, albeit few, because the children’s ward was full. This is confirmed by Dr. Lothar Schrod, chief physician at the local clinic for pediatric and adolescent medicine. “We are currently treating between 25 and 30 children as inpatients for an RS virus disease,” says Schrod. Many of them would have to be treated with additional oxygen, among other things. Schrod points out that the RSV season starts in October at the earliest and every other year in December. “This year we had individual cases throughout the summer,” says Schrod. In September there were already 64 inpatient cases. “The current wave of infections with RSV in terms of the weekly inpatient case numbers is far above the peak values of earlier winter months,” said Schrod. Christoph Lunkenheimer, spokesman for the Frankfurt University Clinic, also confirms that the first RSV cases this year occurred quite early. However, whether the wave of infections will take a more serious course as around 2018/2019 can only be assessed towards the end of winter.
The development does not come unexpectedly for the medical profession. “We were warned,” says Dr. Kay Latta from the Clementine Children’s Hospital. Children’s clinics in New Zealand reported an RS virus wave back in May. In addition, many epidemiologists have already predicted corresponding projections – also for autumn next year. And so Latta says: “I therefore assume that in 2022 we will have a similar situation as we are now.” Julia Lorenz