While flu activity in North Texas has been low so far this flu season, respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, cases are ticking up.
Children’s Health in Plano said it saw 30 patients with positive RSV tests last week while Children’s Health in Dallas saw 47 positive RSV cases. Cook Children’s in Fort Worth reported 178.
While RSV can spread any time of year, doctors see more sick kids starting in the fall.
“We dread RSV season,” said Dr. Paige Volk, with Children’s Health in Plano and UT Southwestern. “Every year, has a little different feel to it, this year feels pretty busy pretty fast.”
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Volk said the numbers reported so far this year aren’t record breaking, but should serve as a warning to families, especially those with infants.
“For a tiny baby to have obstructed airways, they breathe really fast and really hard and use a lot of muscles to breathe,” said Volk. “They very easily get dehydrated.”
Adults and older children can typically manage the symptoms of RSV, which include low-grade fever, congested or runny rose, cough, sore throat, headache, fatigue and occasional wheezing.
In children younger than two, RSV can cause more serious respiratory illnesses like lung infections and pneumonia or even respiratory failure.
Hand-washing is important and so is limiting people’s contact with infants.
“We might just have a runny nose or a tiny tickle in the back of the throat and we really might not know we’re sick and spreading it,” said Volk. “That’s one of the big problems with any virus is that, for adults, you can be spreading it and not know you’re sick.”
McKinney mom Danielle Heath said she remembers rushing her 2-year-old to the hospital in February when she was sick with RSV.
“When she was sleeping, she would stop breathing. It was scary for sure,” said Heath.
Her daughter is now 3-years-old and healthy.
Heath said her best advice for parents is to keep their kids at home if they show any symptoms of RSV.
“If your kid is sick, keep them home. Do not take them to day care, don’t take them to school,” said Heath. “It is so contagious.”