WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Health officials across the country believe the rise in Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections in young children across the country is caused in part by people not adhering to COVID-19 precautions.
Health experts across the country said there has been an unusual increase in RSV infections in young children, and Epidemiology Nurse Brandi Smith said this is also the same for the Lone Star state.
“Mostly because of the likelihood of the public health measures have decreased, we’ve kinda gotten a little bit [re]laxed with our COVID precautions,” Smith said.
RSV is a respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, typically affecting young children under the age of one, and older adults over the age of 65.
It is spread the same way as the coronavirus, through respiratory droplets.
Smith said RSV is not a reportable condition therefore it is unclear how many cases the county has seen but Doctor Jake Kaiser of Pediatric Associates said the area is following the trends of everywhere else.
“We have seen a lot of RSV cases and cases of bronchiolitis which is the disease process that RSV causes, we have seen a big increase unseasonably in the late spring and summertime,” Kaiser said.
Kaiser and Smith said typically there is a spike in the cold winter months so it is odd to be seeing an increase now.
So what should parents be looking for?
“You need to watch for the labored breathing, usually a few days into the illness babies might start having difficulty breathing, where they are sucking in deeper using all their muscles to get air in, so really you need to look at what the chest is doing,” Kaiser said.
Kaiser said if you notice your baby breathing very fast and very hard, they need to be evaluated by a doctor right away.
He said, while the vast majority of babies with the virus will be fine and can be treated at home but if it is not treated, RSV can cause death.
“On the average, there are about 58,000 hospitalizations each year and that’s in the United States for kiddos with RSV and then there are anywhere from 100 to 500 deaths per year among children, which is a lot,” Smith said.
Smith and Kaiser said the main thing in preventing RSV is to be safe, wash your hands, keep your baby away from sick people, cover your sneeze and always sanitize.
While it can be difficult to detect since RSV mimics symptoms of the common cold, these are some things health officials said you want to look out for in your babies:
- Runny nose
- may or may not have a fever,
- decreased appetite or poor feeding habits (which can cause dehydration)