ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) — During this time of year, several illnesses are on the rise including colds, the flu – and RSV.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV can be deadly in both babies and elderly adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 58,000 and 80,000 children younger than 5 are hospitalized with RSV every year.
“This year has been the earliest that I’ve seen it and it has absolutely been the worst season of RSV,” Max Tunstill, the Chief Nurse Practitioner at Athens Limestone Hospital, said.
RSV is particularly dangerous to young children and older adults, and health experts say it is on the rise. Tunstill says RSV is spread through close contact with one another – and that numbers have risen quickly in the last month.
“Our positivity rate since the first of October to current date is at 9%, which is up from what it has been. We’ve also seen an increase in ER visits with everybody ranging from small kids up to older adults that are coming in with RSV. Someone that is really young or that is on the upper end of the age range can experience more difficult symptoms,” said Tunstill.
Tender Care Learning Center, a daycare center in Athens, has been severely affected by RSV and has had to shut down due to too many kids falling sick.
“We’d have three or four kids out and then those would come back and we’d have three of four more out. At one point, of the twelve babies that we had at Tender Care, I think all of them just about were out. Every single one of them got RSV at some point and at the point that we had 50% of the babies out we decided to shut down.” said Paula Armstrong, Tender Care Learning Center Owner.
Officials with the hospital say there are some steps you can take to help your child if they get sick.
“You can use humidifiers to help moisten the air that could help with their breathing issues but I do recommend that you bring them to the emergency room,” Tunstill said.
The daycare says they have taken extra measures to clean their facility and to wash the children’s hands more often. The hospital suggests that if adults have RSV symptoms, they avoid taking their children to school, as they may be carrying the virus.
Earlier this month, the CDC announced there is a limited supply of the antibody treatment that helps protect infants from RSV. So if you would like to protect your child be sure to check the availability with your provider.