911 sees more calls for help as RSV infections among Hawaii kids soar

As RSV infections among children in Hawaii soar, more parents are calling 911 for help, officials said.
Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 4:15 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 15, 2022 at 6:03 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As RSV infections among children in Hawaii soar, more parents are calling 911 for help, officials said.

Meanwhile, state Health officials say 1 in every 4 RSV tests in Hawaii is coming back positive for the virus.

“The things that we worry about with kids is that they can progress so quickly,” said Honolulu EMS paramedic Sunny Fitzgerald.

Health officials say children under 5 are most at risk.

RSV symptoms include running nose, sneezing, cough, fever, irritability and decreased appetite.


While the vast majority people who contract RSV recover at home, Honolulu EMS says lately it’s seeing an increased number of children who need a hospital.

“The majority, it’s going to be the younger kids,” said Fitzgerald. “Infant to toddlers.”

Between Sept.1 and Oct. 31, Honolulu EMS responded to 117 calls for pediatric patients in respiratory distress.

Those children ranged in age from newborns to 13 years old.

That’s up more than 50% from July 1 to Aug. 31 ― when there were were just 76 calls.

Health officials say the influx of RSV cases started in October, earlier than usual.

“Hawaii’s peak infections in past years have generally hit around November, December,” said Department of Health Epidemiologist Sarah Kemble.

DOH Disease Investigative Branch Chief Caroline Pratt added that while the numbers are high, “they’re consistent with the western region of the mainland.”

“Case numbers rose earlier on the East Coast and they’re already beginning to come down there. So hopefully, that’s going to happen on the West Coast and in Hawaii as well,” she said.

RSV isn’t the only thing going around.

Doctors are also treating the flu and COVID.

Fitzgerald said parents should call 911 if they “start noticing their kid is having abnormal breathing, change in color ― specifically blue ― they’re not acting right. Parents should call sooner than later.”

She added, “Our dispatchers are good at advising parents on anyone that calls 911 what to do before we get there.”

Health officials say the vast majority of people who contract RSV fully recover without any long-term consequences.