Local doctors warn about virus that sends babies to ER

12:20 PM, Dec 27, 2018


Local doctors are warning parents about a common cold-like virus that is quickly spreading in the Coastal Bend. If severe, it could potentially send a child to the emergency room.

It’s called Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV. The virus affects mostly young children, but can also be a significant hazard for adults.

Dr. Jaime Fergie, the director of infectious diseases at Driscoll Children’s Hospital, says the virus can become much more serious than a common cold.

“It can go into the lungs, and that’s when the baby begins to have difficulty breathing,” said Dr. Fergie.

Dr. Fergie says a growing number of children have recently been admitted to Driscoll Children’s hospital to be treated for RSV.

“Right now, it’s the season unfortunately,” said Dr. Fergie. “We’re seeing a lot of activity with many hospitalizations and many ER visits.”

The doctor adds RSV is near its peak in activity. As the winter season approached, the number of cases for respiratory diseases like RSV had steadily been on the rise. Dr. Fergie says it’s adding increased pressure on physicians treating for the virus.

“It becomes very busy for the hospital, for the ER and for the doctors offices,” said Dr. Fergie.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says most people who get an RSV infection have mild symptoms like a runny nose, coughing or sneezing. However it can quickly develop into a severe infection, that can leave a baby wheezing or having breathing difficulties.

Fortunately, most children recover from RSV in about a week or two.

The respiratory virus is raising a big concern for local pharmacists and parents. But many are taking the necessary steps to help prevent the spread of RSV.

“We see a lot of sick kids come in here,” said Terry Holley, a pharmacist at Pediatric Pharmacy. “The counter gets coughed on a lot so we’re always wiping that off. We spray a lot of lysol,” she added.

“[We’re doing] Proper hand washing, keeping him bundled up, coming into the doctor regularly,” said Nannette Martinez, a mother to a toddler.

Dr. Fergie adds the best way to prevent the spread of RSV is to avoid close contact with sick people. He also recommends washing your hands often.

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