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Pediatrician promotes awareness, not panic over RSV surge

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Posted at 6:00 PM, Oct 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-21 18:18:35-04

(LEX 18) — Pediatric respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, cases are surging nationwide, including in Lexington.

Over the past two months, Kentucky Children's Hospital reports, on average, 20 pediatric RSV patients. They said it's the largest surge the hospital has seen at one time and that they're working quickly to increase bed capacity.

For adults and older children, RSV usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. However, seniors and infants can develop severe infections.

Pediatrician Dr. Elizabeth Hawse with Commonwealth Pediatrics says it's time to call your pediatrician if your child has a low appetite, irritability, or wheezing and difficulty breathing.

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"In babies, you might see them flare their nostrils with each breath," Dr. Hawse said. "They may do something that's called grunting, which is very rhythmic. Really struggling and almost trying to push the air out and pull the air in."

Call 911 right away if your child is difficult to arouse or has a blue face or lips, according to Hawse.

While there is a surge currently, Dr. Hawse said not to panic because RSV is actually very common.

The CDC reports virtually all kids will get it before the age of two. But only one or two out of every 100 children younger than six months of age with an RSV infection may need to be hospitalized.

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"It's terrifying," former LEX 18 anchor, Shanisty Ireland, said after her two-month-old was hospitalized with RSV. "It's absolutely terrifying to see your child quite literally struggling to breathe."

Baby Asa was in the hospital for about five days and has since been released and is doing better.

Ireland encourages parents to set boundaries to keep their babies safe from infection.

"If you're not comfortable with folks coming around then just say so and you have every right to do so as a parent," Ireland said.

Dr. Hawse also said people should stay away from young children if they are sick because they may have RSV and not know it. She also said to keep up good hand washing hygiene.