June Behler, grandmother to a new grandchild, hopes area residents will learn about RSV or Respiratory Syncytial Virus. “My new little granddaughter was diagnosed with RSV when she was only 15 days old,” said Behler. “Her parents brought her to St. Mary’s Hospital. She was flown by helicopter to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Sacred Heart Medical Center where she was intubated for several days. She is on the road to recovery, but it was a very scary ordeal. If talking about RSV helps a child from getting so sick it will be worth it.”
According to MedlinePlus, a website sponsored by the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health, RSV causes mild, cold-like symptoms in adults and older children. However, it can cause serious problems in young babies, including pneumonia and severe breathing problems. A child with RSV may have a fever, stuffy nose, cough and trouble breathing. Tests can tell if your child has the virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 75,000 to 125,000 children under the age of one year are hospitalized annually with RSV in the United States. RSV incidence follows a seasonal pattern. In temperate climates, the RSV season generally occurs during the fall, winter and spring months. No RSV vaccine exists.
Cathie Hylton, RN, SMHC Infection Control and Employee Wellness nurse, says there have been some cases positively diagnosed in the area recently and cautions that RSV can be highly contagious.
The Mayo Clinic says RSV “…is so common that most children have been infected with the virus by age 2. Respiratory syncytial virus can also infect adults. In adults and older, healthy children the symptoms of respiratory syncytial virus are mild and typically mimic the common cold. Self care measures are usually all that is needed to relieve any discomfort…signs and symptoms of RSV typically appear about four to six days after exposure to the virus.” In severe cases RSV signs and symptoms include high fever, severe cough, wheezing, rapid or difficulty breathing and bluish color of the skin due to lack of oxygen.
“It’s hard being a new parent and knowing where to draw the line when it comes to reacting and overreacting, but I think parents of infants and young children should be aware of this possibility and err on the side of safety,” said Behler, a transcriptionist at St. Mary’s Hospital and Clinics. “Our little granddaughter is getting better. She is truly an all star.”