DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – As if the flu outbreak hasn’t been bad enough, North Texas hospitals are seeing a big jump in children testing positive for RSV, a respiratory illness with symptoms that closely mirror the flu.
“I really freaked out this morning,” new dad Collin Walker told CBS 11 News. “We were like, `we gotta go to the emergency room.’”
Walker’s month-old daughter, Ivy, at first seemed to have caught a cold—but, then began struggling to breath — sending her parents into panic mode.
“She was breathing funny, had a lot of congestion and it wasn’t coming out… not getting any better and then she was diagnosed with RSV.”
Doctors say RSV, or bronchiolitis, can be a serious concern and even fatal for small infants and those with chronic illnesses. But, most children, experts say, need only time and comfort for the symptoms: coughing, sneezing, congestion and fever.
“Fever is our body’s friend,” explained Dr. Daniel Guzman, an emergency room physician at Cook Children’s in Fort Worth. “It’s going to help those children get over illnesses, just as it does with adults. But, you want to make sure you’re treating that to make them feel better.”
While doctors say there is no reason for parents to panic, they should watch for symptoms that suggest more serious complications.
“Fast breathing, are they being hydrated well enough? Are they able to drink fluids well enough? Most kids will have a lot of congestion so they won’t be able to either suck or take a bottle or drink fluids because they just can’t breathe at the same time, so those are the things you want to look at and look for.”
RSV is extremely contagious and is spread when infected people cough, sneeze and touch things. But, unlike the flu, there is no vaccine to prevent the disease, so doctors are urging families to take precautions: isolate sick kids, practice good cough etiquette, and wash hands often.
The number of infections tends to rise with the onset of winter. But, state health officials have seen a 25-percent jump in cases in just the past couple of weeks.
“It’s pretty scary stuff,” adds Walker. “And we’re first time parents, too… so, it’s even more scary.”
The Walkers now know to make sure that Ivy stays hydrated—even if it’s a few careful ounces at a time—and continue to watch her closely. “This is the most she’s slept, she’s doing alright, right now.”
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