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MU doctor warns RSV is affecting children earlier than normal


As communities continue to battle COVID-19 and flu cases, doctors say the community has another virus that needs attention.

Doctors are warning of the respiratory syncytial virus. Dr. Chris Wilhelm, a pediatric doctor at MU Health Care, says it's targeting children much earlier than it typically would. 

"I didn't really see any last week until the end of the week I saw one or two," Wilhelm said. "And then Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday were just tons of children with RSV."

The CDC reports and estimated 58,000 American children younger than 5 years old are hospitalized because of RSV each year. Parents that suspect their child is showing early signs of RSV may experience symptoms like a runny nose, a decrease in appetite, and a cough that may progress to wheezing. 

The difference with flu and RSV: The flu can cause general achiness, a fever of 102-103 and will last five-seven days. The difference with RSV is the nasal secretions and the congestion that I spoke of earlier. With that it can last for one to two weeks and then this cough that the children can have up to a month," said Wilhelm.  

Officials warn if you have a child that is at high risk for severe RSV infection to make sure they're washing their hands, keeping their hands off their face, and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.

There is no vaccine or medicine for RSV.

"It's all supportive care and it comes down to suctioning out that nasal airway; as well as making sure that the children stay hydrated," Wilhelm said.

Officials say pandemic behaviors created an immunity gap, making more people in the US more vulnerable to diseases like RSV.

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Kennedy Miller


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