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Indiana health officials warn of spike in RSV cases

Posted at 8:37 PM, Jul 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-12 05:01:12-04

INDIANAPOLIS — State and local doctors are reporting an increase in RSV cases during a time of year the viral respitory infection is not normally seen.

RSV in the summer is rare and hits its peak time in the winter. Riley pediatric hospitalist Dr. Rachel Peterson says the current rise in cases coincides with mask and social distancing restrictions loosening.

"Where we would normally have maybe a handful of kids throughout the entirety of the month have RSV, we're now seeing a handful of kids a day, just on our service admitted for RSV. That doesn't even include the Pediatric ICU," Peterson said.

Symptoms include cough, fever, wheezing and in infants, not taking bottles.

“I never would have imagined that I would've spent, ya know two weeks of the first two months of my sons' lives in the ICU," dad Kevin Prindle said.

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Prindle's twin sons, Harper and Kennedy, are both fighting RSV. Harper came to Riley Hospital for Children first and has been on oxygen and a feeding tube since Tuesday. Then, while still at home, it became harder for Kennedy to breathe. He was admitted a day later.

There is no treatment for RSV- only supportive care.

“I mean truly, RSV now is something that is out of your control it feels like," Prindle said. "I'm holding my breath every time the doctor comes in to do vitals and hoping that it's better than last time or at least no change... [we're] running on coffee and prayers at the moment."

Prindle thinks the twins' older sister, Addie, brought the virus home from daycare and got sick first, and then their brother Kolby before the twins.

He says RSV never crossed his mind, especially in the summertime when the virus is historically nonexistent.

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"What we're seeing now is this surge ... it's interesting but it's not surprising, we've actually been talking quite a lot about the surge and when it's coming," Peterson said. “I anticipate we will probably see a fall and winter surge of this as well and it will be a kind of time will tell."

Prindle urges parents to educate themselves on RSV before it hits home.

“I had heard of RSV before, but I didn't really know what that meant. Once I learned what it is, what it can cause, what you physically go through after your two preemie twins get it, I wish I knew more," he said.

Peterson says infections usually clear up in a matter of days, but other times it takes weeks. She says if one child is sick, try to enforce hand washing as best as possible and don't share utensils.

She also says to make sure kids two and over continue to wear masks to help protect against viruses.