PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Every year in the U.S., close to 60,000 kids under 5 are treated in hospitals for a virus that can make it hard to breathe.
But this year, the numbers are on the rise — including at Children’s Hospital.READ MORE: Local Businesses Hope Small Business Saturday Will Help Recovery From Pandemic Losses
Devaughn Catunis thought his four-year-old son had RSV, but luckily, that wasn’t the case. RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus: a virus that can make it tough for infants and children under five to breathe and ultimately land them in the ICU.
There isn’t a specific medicine to treat RSV, so getting the right care is most important.
“I thought he just had it not long ago but actually it wasn’t,” said Devaughn Catunis.
“They often need extra oxygen, they may need fluid from getting dehydrated and if they can’t breastfeed or take a bottle very well,” said Chief of Pediatric Diseases at Children’s Hospital Dr. John Williams.
While Dr. John Williams said most kids who get RSV just get the common cold or a cough, there are a substantial number of kids he’s seen at Children’s Hospital this year with more severe symptoms.
“We are seeing a lot of RSV this year and we’re seeing it at a time where we are also seeing a lot of influenza,” said Dr. Williams.READ MORE: Hey Ray! How To Watch Out For Black Ice
Doctors really don’t know why they’re seeing a rise in RSV though. In fact, hospitals in Wisconsin, Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and New York have reported a surge in cases. Dr. Williams said there’s a chance we could see a surge in Pennsylvania, too.
Prevention is key.
“I just spray everything down, let him see what I’m doing, wipe stuff down, wipes his hands down every now and then,” said Catunis.
“The most effective way to prevent RSV and other common infections like RSV is hand washing or hand gel,” said Dr. Williams.
That’s because RSV is spread through contact.
The Centers for Disease Control said RSV can lead to as many as 500 deaths per year, most commonly in very young children with a compromised immune system.
Dr. Williams said there is an RSV vaccine in the works.MORE NEWS: Man And Woman Recovering After Being Shot In Knoxville
He said we should expect to see one available in the next couple of years.