FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Within the past month, doctors in Fort Wayne have seen a rapid increase in Respiratory Syncytial Virus cases (RSV) in children.
This is a common and contagious virus, that has always been around. Usually by the age of one, most children would have had RSV at least once. Generally, most cases happen during the fall and winter months, but after the pandemic, cases are now spiking across the nation in the summer.
Dr. Robyn Schmucker MD, a pediatric infectious disease doctor with Parkview Health, has practiced for 15-years. She told WANE 15’s Briana Brownlee that this is “strange” and she has never seen this happen before.
“In March 2020, when everyone went into lockdown, everybody was wearing masks then throughout the school year last year, everyone was wearing mask. It just wasn’t circulating, so nobody developed immunity to it,” Dr. Schmucker said. “Now that it’s kind of come out again, all of these babies, these toddlers they don’t have any immunity to RSV and it’s going around like crazy.”
Anyone can get RSV, but the age group with the highest risk is six months and younger. This age group is more prone to get very sick, with bronchiolitis and pneumonia. Older children with underlying diseases are also at high-risk.
“You know your baby the best. If you notice something is different with your baby, if you have a gut feeling that something is different, call your pediatrician or family doctor right away.” Dr. Schmucker said. “In the six month and younger group, some of the big signs we see with RSV is poor feeding. They are just really, really irritable. They don’t always have a fever. They don’t always have respiratory symptoms initially. If your baby is breathing really, really fast, you need to go to the emergency room.”
With similar symptoms to the coronavirus, how can parents differentiate between RSV and COVID? Dr. Schmucker said “there is really no way other than getting tested because they can look absolutely identical in babies.”
Dr. Schmucker said cases will increase with children being back in school. She said there is a possibility older children could bring the infection home to their younger siblings.
“Without the mask mandate, RSV and COVID can both spread,” Dr. Schmucker said. “Good hand hygiene, if your child is sick, keep them home from daycare or school. If a relative is sick, do not take your 2-month-old to see them at this point.”
For more information regarding RSV, click here.