Skyrocketing RSV cases cause for concern

Girl coughing

Both my kids were less than six months old when they started attending daycare. I remember worrying about how they would do, being such tiny little bundles when I packed them off.

I distinctly also remember a veteran parent telling me it’s either now or when they attend school. They will catch the occasional cold and cough from their fellow tots, but they will also build immunity.

All well and good. Until you hear about the alarmingly increased number of RSV or Respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus cases that are going around in Arizona over the past few weeks. My hypochondria alarm bells start ringing louder and louder, especially when you hear about children as little as 6 weeks old, falling sick. Like turning bluish, extremely lethargic and zero appetite sick.

Here I was thinking it’s just some kind of cough and no biggie. Clearly, it can be, if not taken care of immediately.

RSV is very contagious and there has been a more than 200 percent increase in the illness compared to last year, according to this report.

While it typically does not cause major issues for adults, it can be serious for infants or older adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kimberly Byrne , a nurse at Banner Children’s at Cardon Children’s Medical Center, said adults can carry the virus, which typically starts as the common cold, but can get passed on as RSV to a child.

When you see the skin going underneath the rib cage or clavicle, that means that child is using other muscles to keep breathing, Byrne noted in the article.

According to Kris Korte, senior infection preventionist at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center, common symptoms to look out for include:

  • Severe coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Respiratory distress (finding it hard to breathe)

How to prevent RSV

  • Frequent hand-washing, since children are frequently infectious before symptoms appear.
  • Dispose tissues used to clean nasal secretions
  • Routine cleaning and disinfection of toys and environmental surfaces
  • Avoid sharing items such as cups, glasses, and utensils

I receive the occasional dreaded sheets outlining the latest new kind of virus or bug going around in the kids’ classrooms. RSV has been among them.

The kids have also gotten the occasional cold and cough in recent months. At least I’ll keep an eye out, continue to wash their hands diligently (too diligently at times!) and see if I can master the art of keeping the younger one from getting into everything the older one’s playing/eating/drinking with. Wish me luck!

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