“Very serious” child virus surges

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is surging out of normal season
Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 5:17 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - COVID-19 is not the only virus spreading, hospitals are seeing an unusual uptick in Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) in infants and newborns this Summer.

“It can be very serious,” Brandy Smith, Clinical Supervisor for Southeast Health Pediatric Unit, said.

For adults, RSV feels like a cold, however Smith said for infants and newborns it is a different story.

“It causes very severe respiratory distress, difficulty breathing, they have a lot of mucus that can kind of clog the airways and it makes it very difficult for them,” Smith said.

The Southeast Health Pediatric Unit has seen a “huge” RSV surge. This is out of normal season, it usually begins around January, but this year it has come out later and is sticking around.

“Because everybody was staying in doors and trying to protect themselves they were also already doing that with their children,” Smith said. “Now that they are wanting to get out a little bit and get that vacation in, they are getting outdoors and they are taking their children outdoors and that’s just putting them at a little bit more exposure.”

According to the CDC this time last year in Alabama the three-week average RSV Antigen percent positive sat at zero, but this year it is up to 27 percent positive.

Smith said this virus can take a while for some patients to recover from.

“They can be hospitalized, they can have a lot of respiratory difficulties, we see a lot of them having to be on breathing treatments, oxygen, and you know the most severe consequences is intubation and possibly death,” Smith said.

Several cases are linked to school aged children bringing it into the home to younger siblings, according to Smith. To avoid that, handwashing should be put at the forefront.

“It’s okay to be overprotective, do what you have got to do to keep you and your new ones safe so they are staying healthy at home,” Smith said.

Smith advises for family and friends wanting to visit a new born to be sure they are well and to hold off on visiting if they have any concerning symptoms.

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