Coastal Empire sees rise in RSV cases

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 5:14 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - As masks have come off, some respiratory illnesses are on the rise.

One is specifically hitting children and causing a concern as they are seeing a spike of local cases. WTOC spoke with doctors at the Dwaine and Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital of Savannah about what they are seeing.

While COVID-19 is fresh on our minds there’s another respiratory illness that’s causing concern for pediatricians this summer.

“Last year’s RSV season was extremely weak there was few patients admitted to the hospital and very few patients we saw as outpatients with RSV, but now that we have taken masks off people have gone back to daycares there is a little more cohorting of children and adults that are unmasked we are seeing a spike in these numbers going through the state,” said Dr. Michael Bossak, Director of Pediatric Hospital and Medicine.

RSV is a viral illness similar to a cold, that can be a big concern for small children. Last year Dr. Bossak says they had less than 10 cases, but he says they had that same number just last week. Typically, RSV hits in the fall and winter months, which is why Dale and Grace Smith were surprised to learn their 3 month old Emmett was hospitalized because of it.

“We didn’t really know that it was going around, kind of surprising and I knew that RSV could be dangerous for babies, but I just really wasn’t looking out for that I was more worried about COVID,” said Grace and Dale Smith.

The Smiths were on vacation in Hilton Head for their first trip since the pandemic when they noticed Emmett’s symptoms got worse.

“He was coughing and wheezing and sounding a little bit horse so he didn’t have a fever or anything which was kind of surprising and not eating normally,” they said.

Dr. Bossak says those most at risk for hospitalization from RSV are newborns, those under two months and kids with congenital heart disease. He says while this is happening earlier than normal, the symptoms aren’t worse.

“The vast majority of patients with RSV will not be hospitalized or have to end up in a hospital at any time, but for that small population that does there are patients that can get very sick from RSV and so if you have concerns if you think that the patient is not breathing well if you think that your child is not breathing correctly please bring them to the ER, let them be seen by a pediatrician,” said Dr. Bossak.

Doctors says they have concerns for the respiratory season ahead and will be monitoring it closely as people take off their masks and return to normal.

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