Avera Medical Minute: Uptick in off-season RSV cases in kids

Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 10:17 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - South Dakota is seeing a resurgence of COVID-19 cases particularly in younger kids. But there’s also another virus infecting more and more young people sending many to the emergency room.

“Its been a long couple days, up all night admitting babies with RSV. They’re requiring oxygen and machines to help them breathe. Its real tough. Its tough on the families, too,” said Dr. Mary Baldauf, Pediatric Intensive Care.

RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus, is a highly contagious virus. It usually peaks in winter, but staff at Avera say they’re seeing an abnormally high number of cases right now.

“And since its the end of summer, beginning of fall, we’ve been seeing way too much than we normally have and we’re very concerned what our winter is going to look like,” said Avera Pediatric Nurse Abbie Wiesler.

Little Cora Pearson was recently admitted to the hospital with RSV and later diagnosed with pneumonia.

“She was just very fussy. She’s normally a very happy baby. So super fussy. Very congested. And I was just kind of watching her retractions in her stomach and they were really heavy, and I know she wasn’t breathing well. So I brought her in,” said Cora’s mom Melissa.

At only 6 months old, Cora received oxygen to help her breathe.

She’s now on her way to recovery, but mom Melissa says the experience was frightening.

“Its kind of scary all this is all happening so early, but I would say just go in. If you are worried about it, just go in and check,” said Pearson.

RSV can mimic some of the same symptoms of COVID-19.

Both can cause fever, coughing, shortness of breath, a sore throat, runny nose, and headache.

With a projected surge of COVID cases in our area this fall, hospitals are preparing for the potential of more patients, especially the younger ones.

“Its real hard because they cant get vaccinated. Everyone is talking about the vaccine, but they’re too young to be vaccinated. So we have to do our part to try and protect them,” said Dr. Baldauf.

For more information on COVID-19 or RSV, visit Avera.org.

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