Kansas City health officials see increase in RSV cases

RSV medical graphic

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KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) — Doctors warn there’s a more severe strain of an upper respiratory virus hospitalizing kids this year.

The symptoms of RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus, can be hard to distinguish early on. Signs of RSV include a persistent cough, fatigue, difficulty breathing and lack of appetite.

Doctors at The University of Kansas Hospital have seen significantly more patients for RSV, and case numbers around the country have doubled since last year.

“This year we definitely seem to see a little bit of a change in the virus here locally. It’s a little bit more severe. Kids are having a little bit longer hospital stays, and I’ve seen quite a few young ones have ended up even on a ventilator for a few days, and then they’re still on some oxygen for a few days after and then they end up going home,” said Dr. Michael Lewis, medical director of Pediatric Inpatient Unit at the University of Kansas Hospital.

Most cases of RSV are mild and do not require medical attention, but it can be worse for infants and older adults

Marian Garcia noticed the symptoms in her toddler.

“He just didn’t want to eat. He just wanted to be carried. He would fall asleep, you know, randomly. And fevers, bad cough, really congested, that’s when I knew,” Garcia said. “I thought it was just a normal cold but after a few days it just got worse and I said, ‘No, something’s not normal.’ That’s what made me bring them to the ER.”

Her son passed the virus to Garcia’s 3-month-old daughter. She was hospitalized for a week. Garcia said her daughter’s case progressed more quickly than her son’s.

“Just seeing the doctors so quickly run in her room, it was scary.”

Doctors say hand washing and staying home when sick will help stop the spread of RSV.