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On Your Side: Virus, RSV, spreading in the First Coast

11:41 PM, Dec 9, 2013   |    comments
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Photo courtesy of AP Graphics

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Some pediatricians on the First Coast say a respiratory virus known as RSV, respiratory syncytial virus, is spreading like wildfire right now.

Parents might mistake it for a common cold but it can be much more dangerous, especially for babies.

First Coast News Anchor Heather Crawford shares more about the virus that lead her to take her daughter to the emergency room.

"It started off with a simple cough, then a high fever, then a trip to the doctor. First my 4-year-old son, then my 2-year-old daughter diagnosed with RSV," explained Crawford.

"We are seeing an outbreak of RSV right now, similar to the flu. It comes in the winter months. RSV can sometimes causes the high fevers and coughing to the point you do need some respiratory treatments and some kids can get hospitalized because of it," said nurse practitioner Meghan Bishop with Dr. O, Pediatric Associates of Jacksonville.

"Labored breathing, vomiting and a high fever lead us to take my daughter to the emergency room late one night where doctors gave her a breathing treatment before sending her home," said Crawford.

Dr. Mark Toney with Wolfson Children's Hospital says it can be very serious. "In neonates, infants and young toddlers the infection can work its way down into the lower respiratory tract and cause a more severe disease including wheezing and difficult breathing which is what we see here in the hospital."

Doctors say the virus is very common and according to the CDC most children have had it by the time they turn two, but only a small percentage develop severe disease.

RSV can be spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes into the air, and by direct and indirect contact.

"The best we can do to prevent transmission of the disease is to wash our hands. It is without a doubt the best thing you can do to stop transmission from person to person," said Dr. Toney.

Also cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze, and clean contaminated surfaces like toys, doorknobs and countertops.

"Parents know their children so at any point when you feel like your child's respiratory status is in any way impaired take a trip to the primary care physician," said Toney.

The CDC says the illness usually begins 4 to 6 days after exposure with a runny nose and decrease in appetite, coughing, sneezing and fever typically develop 1 to 3 days later and sometimes wheezing. Symptoms can last upwards of two weeks.

"The biggest advice for parents is if you start with fever, coughing and congestion go and see a primary care provider to get tested for RSV because it is spreading," said Bishop.

First Coast News

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