RSV cases on the rise in Southern states; doctor warns of signs

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – In recent weeks, the CDC issued a health advisory about respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. The disease is the most common cause of bronchitis and pneumonia in kids younger than one year old.

According to the CDC, older infants and toddlers might now be at increased risk of severe RSV-associated illness since they likely have not had typical levels of exposure to RSV during the past year, due to COVID-19.

Last month, Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville saw more than a dozen confirmed RSV cases, including seven children who required hospitalization. Both numbers are higher than the previous 12 months combined.

Norton Children’s Infectious Diseases Pediatric Specialist Dr. Kristina Bryant said to look out for when children start breathing heavily and coughing excessively, as those may be signs of the virus. Bryant said though COVID-19 cases are falling, parents can’t drop their guard.  

“There are other viruses circulating in the community that can cause a lot of problems for kids. Particularly RSV and parainfluenza, the virus that causes croup. Parents of newborns, parents of premature implants, parents of kids with underlying heart disease or chronic lung disease need to be particularly careful right now to protect their children from exposure to these common viruses in the community,” said Dr. Bryant.

She said that the disease can be prevented by practicing COVID-19 safety measures like handwashing and staying at home at the first sign of sickness.