SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Cases of a common respiratory illness typically only seen during the winter are now spiking in Springfield.
The illness is called RSV and can be fatal, especially in young children. Doctors believe the surge is due to children returning to group activities and places like daycares unmasked.
“This is our slowest part of the year, but we are already close to our capacity,” said Dr. Kofi Asare-Bawuah with CoxHealth.
The virus is most common in infants and young children. Dr. Kofi says RSV is coming back earlier and stronger.
“It’s unusual to see it during this period though,” said Dr. Kofi. “The only explanation we’re thinking about is because we were all masked up, and even the kids in school were wearing masks, so there wasn’t a lot of viral, interpersonal viral transmission.”
Dr. Kofi is mostly seeing infections spread to babies from their parents and siblings that are in school. So, he’s giving parents some advice.
“It’s isolation, good hand hygiene, a good clean environment,” said Dr. Kofi.
Early symptoms include a mild cough, fever, or trouble breathing. Dr. Kofi says more serious symptoms would require a visit to the ER or an urgent care clinic.
” If they start breathing really fast, if they start moving their heads back and forth, and if they are not feeding well, if they are going more than 6 to 8 hours without a wet diaper, then they need to be seen,” said Dr. Kofi.
Dr. Kofi says pediatric beds and staff are running short. The hospital is having to search for new ways to add capacity for children.
“In terms of the number of beds, currently we don’t have enough, but we hope to have enough,” said Dr. Kofi. “Our biggest concern is having enough nurses and enough respiratory therapists to take care of these kids when we admit them.”
However, there may be a solution to RSV coming soon. A vaccine from Moderna is currently going through phase one of a clinical trial for ages 6 and up. It’s called Synagis and was given the fast-track designation by the FDA last week which means research on its effectiveness for all ages can be accelerated.