Respiratory Syncytial Virus is spreading and hospitalizing more children than flu

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on February 18, 2011 at 6:21 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 21 at 2:40 AM

A sickness is spreading across North Texas. Doctors who are treating children coming down with have called it the unsung villain of viruses.  


It is called respiratory syncytial virus, but known as RSV. Contrary to what parents think, it is not the flu that hospitalizes most kids this time of year.   

We are right in the middle of the peak season for sickness among children, which starts in October and runs through April.

Pediatricians at North Texas hospitals said RSV hospitalizes about half the children that they are treating now.

Fifteen month old Anthony Lewis does not want to watch cartoons.  His father, who has been with him around the clock at the hospital said Anthony is exhausted from what he has been through this week. The problems started last weekend with flu-like symptoms:  coughing, fever and congestion

"He was fighting to breathe basically,” said Chris Lewis, Anthony’s father. “He was basically panting like a dog.  His breath was just short.”

The little boy's fever hit 105 point 7. He has been on oxygen since Monday.  His parents were puzzled when the doctor told them it was RSV.

"Me and his mom were like, ok, what's that?” Lewis said. “We had never heard of it."

Pediatrician Jason Buttles said kids are sick this time a year from a myriad of causes. He said some are more familiar to parents than others, from influenza and asthma to rhinovirus and metapneumo virus.  It is RSV that is sending most children to the hospital.

"You'll hear a lot of wheezing, difficulty breathing,” said Dr. Jason Buttles, pediatrician. “They'll be breathing fast and heavy and that's why RSV becomes so dangerous in these young kids."

RSV caused more deaths nationwide than the flu. While doctors said this is considered a "light" year, that is not much solace for Anthony Lewis' parents.

"It's tough,” Lewis said.”It's tough seeing your kid go through it."

After five tough days in the hospital Anthony Lewis’ health is slowly improving and hopefully, he will be going home soon.

There are several things you can do to keep illnesses from spreading according to the centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

·    The most important is to avoid close contact with people who are sick.

·    Stay at home if you or your kids are sick.

·    Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing

·    Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth because germs often spread when a person touches something contaminated and then one of those areas.

Email: sstoler@wfaa.com

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