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Pediatricians ask parents to stay vigilant after rare summer spike in RSV cases

Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 11:16 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Pediatricians in Washoe County are describing this year’s Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV season as abnormal.

“Completely bizarre, we’ve never seen anything like that,” said Dr. Krista Colleti, pediatrician at Aspen Pediatrics.

The common illness, which typically results in mild, cold-like symptoms, usually goes along with the winter flu season. However, last year, it barely made an appearance.

“We really didn’t see any and we didn’t have any flu either so, sort of surprising, but also not because people were distancing, not going to crowded spaces and everybody was wearing a mask,” said Dr. Colleti.

Earlier this summer, pediatricians saw a historical surge in cases and although they were not surprised by the spike, the timing was unusual.

“I was diagnosing cases of RSV in July in my office,” said Dr. Christina Raman, physician and owner of Summit Pediatrics. “Which I’ve never done in my entire career and I don’t know anybody who really has.”

In some cases, RSV can be deadly for infants and the elderly.

“In little babies there’s something called apnea that can happen, where they literally stop breathing for 20 seconds or more,” said Dr. Raman. “Which obviously is deeply alarming and very concerning, and you have to put them in the hospital to make sure that doesn’t keep happening.”

According to Dr. Colleti, hospitalizations are usually among kids under 6 months old, but this time around, she has seen more toddlers being sent to the hospital.

Because there is no vaccine for the virus, the recommendation for parents is to be vigilant and treat the symptoms.

“Humidification in the room, steamy bathrooms to help loosen up some that snot, nasal suctioning with some saline,” said Dr. Raman.

Dr. Colleti says she has started to see fewer cases, but is still unsure of what to expect as the weather gets colder. While Dr. Raman thinks there will be another spike in the winter.

According to Washoe County Health District, cases have been decreasing in the last few weeks.

If your child shows symptoms like difficulty breathing or wheezing, the recommendation is to call your doctor.

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