Doctors warn of respiratory virus – especially for children under 2

Local News

If you’ve noticed more people with a cold, health officials are warning it might be more serious. 

Doctors with both Lutheran Health Network and Parkview Health joined with the Allen County Health Department to warn about the uptick of RSV – respiratory syncitial virus. 

Symptoms are like the common cold but RSV is also the most common cause of bronchiolitis. RSV is highly contagious, can live for several days on hard surfaces, and is spread when the infected person coughs or sneezes.

To fight the spread, frequently wash your hands and hard surfaces, including counters, crib rails, and toys. 

The highly contagious respiratory virus is common this time of year in both children and adults, and usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. RSV is also the most common cause of bronchiolitis, or inflammation of the small airways in the lungs, which can often become more serious especially for children under two-years-old. 

Dr. Deborah McMahan, Health Commissioner of Allen County, was joined at an informational event Thursday by Stefanie Paulson, MD and Tony GiaQuinta, MD.

According to a relase about the event, Dr. GiaQuinta, a pediatrician with Parkview Physicians Group, spoke on the common signs and symptoms of an RSV infection, including excessive mucus, coughing, sneezing and fever. He stressed that because it is a virus, antibiotics or medications like albuterol or prednisone – a steroid often used for asthma – are not helpful in treating RSV. He said parents should not hesitate to talk to their healthcare provider about symptoms their children are experiencing, however, because doctors know what to look for and will be able to help them assess the seriousness. He also emphasized the importance of keeping children at home (and out of daycares and school) while they fight the virus to avoid further spread.

Dr. Paulson, a pediatric hospitalist at Lutheran Children’s Hospital and Dupont Hospital, discussed some ways she monitors and treats RSV in young children and when she might determine additional medical support is needed to help him or her fight the virus. She said that while most cases of RSV in children will clear up with at-home care, some young children with more severe symptoms may require brief hospitalization to get assistance in breathing with an oxygen mask or hydration through intravenous (IV) fluid replacement or a nasogastric tube (NG tube). She said that is sometimes necessary in very young children because they cannot blow their noses and have not yet developed the coordination to breath, swallow and suck simultaneously.

For more information on RSV from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, visit https://www.cdc.gov/rsv/index.html.

UPDATE | Based on the original press release, an earlier version of this story misidentified albuteral as a steriod.

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