With flu season comes risk of RSV

With flu season comes risk of RSV (Image 1)

As if the flu season hasn't been bad enough, clinics and hospitals are also seeing an uptick in young patients with RSV.

Respiratory syncytial virus is a virus that causes infections of the lungs and respiratory tract.

RSV is like a cold, but can be life-threatening for babies less than a year old.  

The virus can also infect adults, but the symptoms are usually mild and mimic the common cold.

At Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, doctors have seen a continuous flow of young patients coming in with RSV since the fall.

Adrenne Smith brought her 10-month-old son, Anthony, in to get a Synagis shot to protect him against RSV.

“He hasn't had any cold like symptoms. I try to keep him inside to prevent anything from happening,” said Smith.

Anthony was born premature which, according to doctors, makes him more susceptible to the virus.

“Those are the children who, if they get infected with RSV, are at a higher risk for developing infection,” said Dr. Joseph Gigante with Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.

The Synagis shot is for children who are considered high risk, children born prematurely or those with lung disease or heart problems.

While RSV is much like a cold, it can quickly get worse.

“The virus can get into their lungs and cause severe lung infections and they get a whole lot sicker than adults do,” said Dr. Gigante.

Parents of infants should watch for difficulty breathing and difficulty feeding or taking a bottle.

There is no cure for RSV.

Doctors say good hand washing is the best way to prevent it.

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