NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Pediatricians want parents to be on alert. The Respiratory Syncytial Virus typically pops up in the fall, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory that RSV is now spreading throughout parts of the South.
The virus usually circulates from October-March, but Nashville has been hit early and hit hard this year, says Dr. James Antoon, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
“We typically see one case of RSV, maybe a handful amount [during July]. Now we’re seeing several a day to where we’ll have 10-20 in the hospital,” said Dr. Antoon.
That news is especially concerning for Katie Wylie, mom to Ben and Jack, identical twins born at just 25 weeks and spent 130 days in the NICU.
“They were born at 1 pound 3 ounces and 1 pound 10 ounces. And when you’re that small, and you come that early, your lungs are really underdeveloped,” Wylie explained.
The boys are now almost 4-years-old but protecting from respiratory illness is still on her radar. So, imagine Wylie’s concern when she received a call from the boy’s school that Ben and Jack were sick.
“One of the main symptoms they had was a persistent fever that lasted for a week,” Wylie said.
Their symptoms progressed. A trip to the doctor confirmed the boys had RSV. The good news, they’re handling it well.
“I’m so thankful that they’re weathering it so well and that it just seems like a normal childhood illness and that we’re not spending time in the hospital, because that is a real threat for kids with lungs like theirs.”
For others that don’t fare as well, Dr. Antoon said, “It goes down into the lungs where it can cause things like pneumonia, bronchiolitis, which correlates to dehydration difficulty breathing, and respiratory distress.”
Simple hand hygiene, disinfecting surfaces, and keeping children home when sick can go a long way in stopping the spread of RSV.
“A simple illness like RSV might be a small insignificant cold to an adult of a very healthy child, but to a family or a more vulnerable population, it is a very serious illness that could have life-changing effects,” Wylie said.
Wylie appreciates those who have a community mindset taking proactive steps to help protect vulnerable populations, like her boys.
If your child is wheezing or having difficulty breathing, don’t hesitate to call their pediatrician.