Respiratory virus in children on the rise in East Tennessee

Since RSV is a virus, Dr. Radu says there are no antibiotics to treat it.
Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 9:19 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A virus typically found in children during the winter months is on the rise in East Tennessee this summer.

East Tennessee Children’s Hospital Emergency Room director Dr. Heather Radu says people who get Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) usually have common cold symptoms, but can be serious in young children and adults. The virus spreads through the air and caused congestion and coughing in most, but can be very serious for children younger than six-months-old.

Since RSV is a virus, Dr. Radu says there are no antibiotics to treat it. She says there are signs a parent can pick up on of their child has RSV.

“What happens is their little nose gets so stuffed that they can’t breathe, so you’ll know that they’re not able to breathe out of their nose like they’re used to doing so you’ll definitely know that,” said Dr. Radu. “Their nostrils are flaring while they’re breathing, if they’re breathing very fast if you notice that their belly is going up and down a lot. If they have are pulling in between their ribs and you can see that.”

Dr. Radu said the virus is more prevalent in the winter, but East Tennessee hasn’t seen the usual bump in cases until now, in the summer.

“We are now seeing our winter numbers starting to creep up at this point. It’s you know a lot of RSP now, is that linked to COVID and people taking their masks off. I don’t know if it’s necessarily linked to taking the mask off, but I absolutely think that what we have seen with COVID has pushed a lot of illnesses into different times and seasons,” said Radu.

Children who are older than six months, but who are not quite daycare age are less at risk than younger babies, according to Dr. Radu.

“They’re at less risk but still at risk, so any, most of us who get it, including those toddler aged kids will get a bad cold where they can’t breathe and they may be fussy, they may end up with a high fever, but most of them will do very well. Some of them are going to be prone to wheezing where you can just really hear them whistling when they’re breathing, and they may need a little more intervention with that,” she said.

If you think your child is sick with RSV, you are urged to call your pediatrician. Dr. Radu says hand washing and staying home and away from young babies when you are sick is the key to stopping the spread of RSV.

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