Respiratory Virus In Babies On The Rise

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There's a virus going around other than the flu, and infants and toddlers are most at risk.

It's called Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, and local hospitals and daycares are seeing a rise in cases.

A snow day usually means a busy day for child care centers, but it's been a lot quieter lately at Happy Elephant.

"We have had an increase in children out," Happy Elephant Child Care Center Director Krista Miller said. "Running fevers, throwing up, diarrhea, cold symptoms, just not acting their normal self."

Many of those symptoms could be a sign of RSV. It starts out like a normal cold and spreads like one too, but in weak immune systems it can become much more severe. Children ages 2 and under are most susceptible.

"It causes an infection in the small airways called bronchiolitis, and it can also cause pneumonia," Dr. MaryAnn Tran of Michigan State University's Infectious Disease Department said.

Severe wheezing, fever and cough are common signs, though babies' don't always progress that far. Capital Area Pediatrics have had a few cases that required hospitalization.

"Sometimes they need to be given extra fluids because they're breathing so hard they don't have the ability to suck, and sometimes they're breathing so hard they're not getting enough oxygen, and they need extra oxygen," Dr. Mary Mora of Capital Area Pediatrics said.

Several other local daycare centers said they've been experiencing a drop in attendance due to illness, and doctors say playing it safe is best.

"There's really no way to distinguish between a cold or RSV, so that's why it's really important to go to your doctor's, so they can test for RSV," Dr. Tran said.

She also recommends keeping your child home from school or daycare if they're displaying any symptoms, some advice Happy Elephant is already following.

"When we notice a child's not feeling well, we're sending them home, calling parents, saying, 'Hey, they're not acting right,' we're asking parents to keep them home," Miller said.

They're also doing a lot more hand-washing and disinfecting from tables to toys, a tip parents should keep in mind, as well.

RSV is most contagious the first days of infection. There is no cure right now, but symptoms usually go away on their own within two weeks.

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