SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A flu like illness has thousands of children in emergency rooms across the country and the CDC says at least 500 children die every year because of it.
A Savannah pediatrician says they’ve seen a large number of severe cases, some sending infants to the hospital.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, is an upper respiratory sickness mostly common in infants and children under the age of five. The CDC says every year, it lands up to 50,000 children in emergency rooms across the country.
Dr. Ben Spitalnick, a pediatrician at Pediatric Associates of Savannah, says RSV is at it’s most contagious stage around Thanksgiving. However, he also says the virus is more active this year.
“We’re seeing a lot more severe cases than we typically do. This late into RSV season we’ve had several kids put in the hospital and in some cases, the hospitalization is prolonged, especially if they have a pre-existing condition,” he said.
Dr. Spitalnick says RSV is highly contagious. Getting it can be as easy as touching someone who has it. He also says there is a vaccine, but it’s only approved for small infants because it’s most common in that age group.
However, older children and adults can contract it too.
“In most big kids, it’s like a bad cold. But in infants, especially very small infants especially premature infants, it can get very severe, lead to respiratory distress and in some cases, hospitalization.”
It looks just like other cold symptoms: congestion, fever and a cough.
But parents say they’re taking extra precaution.
“As a parent, that’s something very serious that we should take in mind of our children because i didn’t know anything about a lot of kids die every year because of the sickness and everything so that’s really something serious to think about.”
To protect yourself from RSV, wash your hands thoroughly, stay home if you’re sick, and practice good hygiene.