LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Children with RSV account for about one out of every five pediatric hospital admissions in Nevada, according to information released Thursday.

The load of RSV cases — respiratory syncytial virus — involving children is four to five times greater than hospital admissions for COVID-19, according to statistics from the Nevada Hospital Association (NHA).

All 70 pediatric intensive care unit beds in Southern Nevada are currently full, according to the NHA report.

Dr. Steven Merta, Chief Medical Officer at Sunrise Hospital and Sunrise Children’s hospital, said RSV is making its mark here.

“Consistent with national trends, Sunrise Children’s Hospital is experiencing record volumes of pediatric patients admitted with a respiratory diagnosis, specifically RSV,” Merta said. “As always, Sunrise Children’s Hospital is ready to provide exceptional patient care for sick children throughout Las Vegas and Southern Nevada.”

Merta noted the overlap with the beginning of flu season. “As we see the early effects of RSV and enter into influenza season, we encourage all members of our community who are eligible, including children, to receive their flu vaccine,” he said.

RSA is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most people recover in a week or two.

But RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults, the CDC says. RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia (infection of the lungs) in children younger than 1 year of age in the United States.

Respiratory viruses usually spread during winter, but the Southern Nevada Health District advises that the surges are occurring earlier this year. SNHD Chief Health Officer Dr. Fermin Leguen urges precautions including getting the flu vaccine and staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccines. There is currently no vaccine that specifically prevents RSV.

Dr. Leguen also recommends people help prevent the spread of RSV and other respiratory illnesses by staying home when they are sick, covering their coughs and sneezes with tissues or their sleeve, washing their hands frequently with soap and running water and cleaning frequently touched surfaces. Adults with respiratory symptoms should limit their interactions with children due to their higher risk for severe illness from RSV.

In addition to RSV cases, hospitals are starting to see more flu cases. But flu hospitalization rates are not broken down by the patient’s age.

“The hospitalization rates for influenza (in Nevada) have jumped from an average of 5 patients last week to 30 patients this week,” NHA reports. “Additionally, ICU admissions went from one person to seven.” Two-thirds of all flu cases are for Type A influenza, NHA said.

NHA emphasized that hospitals can handle the current load.

“Hospitals can manage the influx of pediatric patients, and their internal methods to deal with capacity challenges are currently working,” NHA said. “Staffing shortages specific to pediatric specialties, including nursing, intensive care and respiratory therapy have been widely reported throughout the nation as well as in Nevada.”