Severe respiratory illness caused by deadly viruses has led Children's Hospital in Winnipeg to transfer patients to other hospitals.
Children affected by Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) occupy all eight beds at the hospital's pediatric intensive care unit, said Dr. Cheryl Greenberg of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.
"Seven of these children are intubated, which means they are hooked up to a machine that helps move air in and out of their lungs," she said.
"Of these seven children who are intubated, five are known to have the RSV infection and most of these are children younger than six months of age."
A baby with symptoms of RSV infection, from Thompson, Man., was transported to a hospital in Edmonton on Friday, while two infants who tested positive for the infection are in isolation at Winnipeg's St. Boniface General Hospital, the Winnipeg Free Press reports.
RSV causes bronchiolitis and pneumonia among infants under one year of age. It infects the narrow airways in the lungs and can be fatal in babies and small children.
"Some of the very young children, once they're intubated, do require to be intubated probably for about a week as their illness runs its course," said Greenberg.
The hospital intensive care unit is busy removing children on a daily basis, leaving room for others, she added.
"If we do have difficulties in keeping beds vacated in our pediatric intensive care, and currently we are not, then we certainly have contingency plans," Greenberg said.
"It's a common virus and every year we normally get a certain number of cases," Greenberg told CBC News. "But this year we've had a cluster of cases, beginning before Christmas time."
The infection spreads through coughing and sneezing. Adults develop resistance to RSV after repeated exposure.