LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Pediatricians across Kentucky reported seeing a rise in Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) in both children and adults. While a Lexington pediatrician said the cause is not officially known, COVID-19 could be to blame.
"Usually we have this in Kentucky in the winter," explained Commonwealth Pediatrics Pediatrician Dr. Elizabeth Hawse M.D. FAAP. "This is what we think of as during cold and flu season we would have, and for whatever reason probably related to COVID and the fact that we've been masked all winter we didn't see it and now of course when we're unmasked, we're starting to see the normal common cold viruses, and unfortunately this virus. This is really late for us to see in Kentucky."
Hawse said RSV is a virus that responds differently depending on age.
"Adults think this is a common cold or allergies. You know, we're not very sick when we get RSV, and so now that many of us are vaccinated and we're going in places with our masks on. If we have a little bit of runny nose, it's not bothering us," she said. "But adults should not be around babies if they feel like they have cold symptoms. In general, this is even pre-COVID, even if you don't have a fever, because it could be that you have RSV and you're going to give it to the baby."
Although Hawse said she does not want parents to panic, she does want parents to watch to see if it is difficult for their child to breathe, especially those less than a year old as they have a higher risk of catching a bronchial infection.
She explained, "If your baby has wheezing that you can hear coming from their chest or they seem like they're breathing quickly; they're flailing their nostrils to breathe. You see, like they're really tugging, moving, you know sometimes their belly will move instead of their chest, those are things you need to call your pediatrician about."