BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - One Gulfport mom said she thought her daughter had a cold, but when the 13-month-old's temperature spiked, Kristina Ware had a feeling it was something else.
She was right. Her daughter had a highly contagious virus known as Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. For a few days now, little Annabelle hasn't been herself.
"She's been more sluggish. She's only been wanting to cuddle. I thought she had a cold, and then when they told me it was something more serious and that it was going to last for as long as it will last, it worried me," said Ware.
Ware took her daughter to the emergency room Tuesday, where Annabelle tested positive for RSV.
According to kidshealth.org, the virus causes infection of the lungs and breathing passages, and is a major cause of respiratory illness in young children.
Dr. Trishna Sisodraker, who is a pediatrician at Gulf Coast Children's Clinic, said this is the prime time for RSV to pop up starting in November until April.
"Symptoms can include initially runny nose and lack of appetite. As the virus progresses, it can turn into cough, sneezing, irritability, and fever. Those are common symptoms, and as they progress, they get a little worse," Sisodraker explained.
Sisodraker said RSV, which parents often confuse for a cold, spreads like any other virus; through coughing, sneezing, as well as contact with surfaces like tables, doorknobs, and toys. She said there are no specific medications for RSV. She urges parents to provide supportive care.
"Making the child comfortable. Making sure they are staying hydrated, wetting their diapers. That's very key. Treating the fevers. A temperature is considered anything more than a 100.4. Fahrenheit," said Sisodraker.
If you suspect your child has the virus, take him or her to get tested by a doctor.
Above all else, doctors recommend prevention, meaning washing hands for at least 20 seconds, as well as covering your mouth and nose if you sneeze or cough.
"Worst case scenario yes, children have been coming through our ERs, they have been admitted to our hospitals for RSV, and a lot of times, they need support with supplemental oxygen. Keeping them comfortable, some of them need IV fluids to get them hydrated. Again, it can get as worse as a child needing intubation, which is the worst case scenario," Sisodraker said.
If your child tests positive for RSV, Sisodraker recommends taking your child out of school or daycare to keep the virus from spreading. She said mild cases can be cured in four to six days, but in younger children it may linger. Your child is always susceptible to get the virus more than once.
Other symptoms include running nose and loss of appetite.
Care for a child with RSV includes:
- Turning on the shower and steaming the bathroom will allow you to suck out your child's nasal secretions.
- Elevating baby's mattress
- Clearing child's airways. With babies, that mean suctioning your baby's nasal passage.