Bronchiolitis: the State triggers the white plan in the face of a record number of hospitalizations

Posted Nov 9, 2022, 5:04 PM

An epidemic whose pediatric services would have done well. Noting a “continued increase” in epidemic indicators “despite a shift” linked to the All Saints holidays, the Minister of Health François Braun announces the triggering of the white plan, planned in exceptional health situations, in all French hospitals. .

“I decided this morning, in addition to everything that was already mobilized, to trigger the ORSAN plan (organization of the response of the health system in exceptional health situations) specific to this epidemic, to further strengthen the means of the ARS ( regional health agencies) and allow the entire hospital to focus on this particularly acute problem today,” the minister told the Senate.

An unprecedented virulence

The bronchiolitis epidemic has reached unprecedented virulence. Public Health France underlines “very high numbers of emergency visits and hospitalizations for bronchiolitis and at levels higher than those observed at epidemic peaks for more than 10 years”.

Nearly 6,900 children under two went to the emergency room for bronchiolitis in mainland France in the week from October 31 to November 6, a weekly increase of 7%, however, much less than the increase of the previous week (+ 47%). Some 2,337 children were eventually hospitalized.

As a result, the epidemic is “still in an upward wave”, which “initially surprised the health system, which is forced to reorganize”, underlines government spokesperson Olivier Véran. Children in pediatric intensive care have in particular had to be transferred from Ile-de-France to other regions.

A disrupted seasonality since the Covid

Hospitalizations for bronchiolitis represent 50% of hospitalizations after going to the emergency room in children under two years old, against “about 40% during the peaks of previous seasons”, noted the health agency. Traditionally, the bronchiolitis epidemic follows the same seasonal pattern from one year to the next: it starts between the end of October and mid-November, reaches a peak in December, ends at the end of January or even the end of February.

But this temporality has been shaken up since the Covid-19, in many countries. “Before the Covid-19 pandemic, bronchiolitis epidemics were known for their great regularity, with a peak systematically reached around the 50th week of the year. The pandemic has come to upset this relative balance, ‘explains Pascal Crepey, epidemiologist at the School of Advanced Studies in Public Health in Rennes.

This phenomenon has only aggravated the crisis of pediatric emergencies, linked to unsatisfactory working conditions and a lack of personnel. Under pressure from caregivers, the Minister of Health François Braun announced new measures for pediatric services, totaling around 400 million euros.

Common and highly contagious, bronchiolitis, most commonly caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), causes babies to cough and have labored, rapid, wheezing breathing.

If it can worry parents, it is most of the time benign. But, in some cases, it may require a visit to the emergency room, or even hospitalization.

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