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More Utah babies being treated for RSV

By Shara Park | Posted - Feb. 11, 2011 at 4:37 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- It's the time of year when feeling under the weather is pretty common. But if it's your baby who's not feeling well, it may be because of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

What is... RSV?
Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages. Infection can be severe in some people, such as certain infants, young children, and older adults. RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children under 1 in the U.S. -CDC

Right now, RSV is sweeping across Utah.

"We saw a great increase around the end of January and it's continuing to increase, and it's causing a lot of misery," said Dr. Charles Pruitt at Primary Children's Medical Center.

Pruitt said 107 children have tested positive for RSV at the hospital in the past seven days.

"It's a cold virus in you and me, but in little ones it gets down in to the bronchial and causes inflammation deeper in the lungs," he said. "It can be deadly."

Candice Richards wasn't going to risk such a fate with her 4-month-old son. She rushed him to the emergency room at the first sign of RSV.

"When he was breathing, his stomach was going into his ribs and with his stomach pinching his ribs," she said. "They told me if his skin pinches into his ribs, then take him in immediately."

To treat RSV, doctors often use a medicated breathing mist, suctioning the nasal passage and oxygen.

"We have some children with such severe disease that they need artificial ventilation," he said.

Pruitt says the effects of RSV can last up to six weeks, so it's important to monitor children for respiratory distress and congestion. And it's crucial to stop the spread of the virus to other children by washing your hands.

"It's hard knowing that your baby is sick," Richards said. "And with him this little, they can't really give him anything because it's a virus."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says premature infants, children less than 2 years old with congenital heart or chronic disease, and children with compromised immune systems due to a medical condition or medical treatment are at highest risk for the disease.

It also says RSV infections generally occur from November to April.

E-mail: Shara Park

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