RSV cases in children increases in LA amid extreme weather conditions

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The extreme cold and recent rainy weather has contributed to a rise in young children being seen in the ER, and there's been a marked increase in cases of a virus called RSV. (KABC)

The extreme cold and recent rainy weather has contributed to a rise in young children being seen in the ER, and there's been a marked increase in cases of a virus called RSV.

Two-year-old Giovanni felt so sick, he couldn't get any rest, and it was the same case for his sister.

"They're coughing. She can't sleep. They've been having a high fever," mother Heidi Cortez said.

It could have been the flu, but right now chances are it's likely RSV.

"Well RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus," said Dr. Stephen Kishineff, with Providence St. Joseph Medical Center.

It's a contagious infection of airways. Kishineff said he's been seeing a spike in cases.

"Prevention is tough in January and February because it's just rampant," he said.

This winter, local hospitals, such as Children's Hospital Los Angeles, saw three times the cases they saw last year. Experts blame the increase on the extreme weather we've had.

"It tends to happen more when it's cold and rainy. And I've noticed in the past years where there's more rain and it's colder - more RSV" Kishineff said.

For most adults and kids, RSV feels like a very bad cold. Except doctors said, the fevers can be quite high, and in babies under the age of three months, the symptoms can be quite severe.

"They tend to have more respiratory distress, noisy breathing. It's very scary," Kishineff said.

According to Kishineff, the best ways to protect the most vulnerable population - infants - is to wash your hands thoroughly before you touch your baby. Ask others to do the same.

Don't let anyone smoke in your home. Exposure to second hand smoke can make young airways more susceptible and keep your infant away from crowds and sick people.

RSV could be especially troubling for Cortez and her kids because they all have asthma.

"It's cold and everything, me and them, are sick (and) we get sick very often," Cortez said.

There's no vaccine, but scientists are working on one. Most young patients will just need supportive care, but doctors said go to the ER if your child is suffering from respiratory distress.

Related Topics:
healthbabytoddlerchildren's healthdoctorshospitalhealthy livingChildren's Hospital Los AngelesLos AngelesLos Angeles County
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