MILWAUKEE — Wisconsin’s spike of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases is getting so severe, hospitals are starting to postpone appointments and surgeries. 

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), there were more than 2,000 cases of RSV reported statewide last week. 

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin has 50-60 pediatric patients in the hospital with RSV every day. For comparison, they have fewer than 15 COVID-19 cases. 

When they combine all their clinics and urgent care centers, Children’s doctors are seeing hundreds of RSV cases per day. 

The spike really began in October in the Badger State, and got more serious a couple weeks ago. Cases have doubled at Children’s nearly every week since the first week of October. 

Children’s has had to cancel some wellness visits to increase their capacity to care for all the RSV patients. 

“[We’re seeing] three to five days in the hospital for someone with a respiratory syncytial virus,” said Children’s Wisconsin Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rainer Gedeit. “The younger you are, you're more vulnerable, so you may be in the hospital longer.”

Children’s Wisconsin is now working with hospitals across the state. 

American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison has seen quadruple the patients with RSV than at the same time last year. More than 10% of its hospital beds are filled exclusively with RSV patients. 

The respiratory virus can look a lot like the flu and coronavirus. It can cause runny nose, coughing, sneezing, reduced appetite and sometimes a low fever. It can get dangerous for children when it impacts their breathing. 

Dr. Gedeit said the best way to prevent a child getting RSV is to keep them away from anybody who’s sick, no matter how mild their illness seems. Keeping surfaces as clean as possible can also make a big difference.