More children being hospitalized with RSV, presents like the cold or flu

A number of area children have been hospitalized with RSV.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus can be dangerous for the very young and for older people. While it is a common virus, it’s also quite contagious.  So area emergency rooms are filling up with kids who have caught RSV.

"A lot of patients have RSV right now,” says Children's Memorial Hermann Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Michael Chang.

The virus causes cold-like symptoms including coughing, congestion, runny nose, sore throat, and sometimes fever.

"It really likes to get into the lower parts of the lungs, so it can cause difficulty breathing. In younger kids, you can see wheezing,” explains Dr. Chang.

The Infectious Disease Specialist says if your child is having trouble breathing, isn’t eating well, and isn’t very active, you should go to the emergency room and contact your pediatrician.

Heather Paddy is all too familiar with the symptoms after her son William had to be hospitalized. 

"Coughing and wheezing and working really hard to breathe. As an infant, as a 6-week-old, it was really scary," Paddy explained, saying her child spent a week in the hospital.

Alex Kidd’s son J.R. was four months old when he suffered RSV. He was tested again for it after getting sick a couple weeks ago. 

"We took him in. She said it was just a cough from his allergies," Kidd said.

Dr. Chang says RSV can be especially dangerous for kids under five, adults older than 65, and anyone with other health issues. He says about 14,000 adults die per year from the virus. The number is less for kids. 

"There’s maybe a few hundred deaths per year from RSV, but that’s out of many millions of cases," Dr. Chang explains.    

There is no treatment for RSV, according to Dr. Chang. You just have to manage the symptoms while it lasts. RSV isn’t airborne, it is spread by you touching something after someone with the virus coughed or sneezed into their hand, then touched that same surface. Dr. Chang says the only way to prevent getting RSV is to wash your hands thoroughly and often.

“This is pretty much the peak season for RSV,” adds Dr. Chang, who also says there are a lot of people being tested for flu right now but most of the flu tests are coming back negative.