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January 17, 2013, 6:09 PM by Casey Wonnenberg


We've been hearing a lot about influenza, but there are a couple other concerning viruses going around.

One of those is RSV. It attacks the lungs and every year causes more than 200 deaths in babies under a year old.

Harper Peterson is getting some of her bubbly personality back, but the almost three-year-old still is having difficulty breathing and suffers from a deep cough.

"When you look at the outbreak of the flu that's going around and other kids at daycare have RSV and similar infections or colds, you get a little bit worried," Harper's Father Nathan Peterson said.

Haper's parents took her to the doctor's office on Tuesday where they diagnosed her with RSV.

"She had a runny nose. She was tired, and we could definitely see it in her eyes," Nathan said.

And while some kids are able to battle the virus at home, others end up in the hospital with life-threatening conditions.

"It can be deadly. Although the mortality rate of RSV is very low, there are individuals who end up on a ventilator for respiratory failure and most of the time when they end up on a ventilator, they're on the ventilator for approximately anywhere between seven to ten days," Sanford Children's Hospital Chief Medical Officer Joe Segeleon said.

Segeleon says those most at risk are infants under three months old, children who were born premature and kids who have underlying or chronic lung disease or congenital heart disease.

"Also older children with asthma can also be at risk for more severe disease," Segeleon said.

Segeleon says you should make sure your child is not having difficulty breathing or has developed an abnormal breathing pattern.

"With young infants, if they have long pauses in their breathing or their pattern does not seem to be what you're accustomed to, that would be my cue to seek medical attention," Segeleon said.

Harper's parents are glad doctors solved the puzzle of what was wrong with their daughter. She's recovering well and has only had to take one nebulizer treatment. Now the family is taking steps to make sure the virus doesn't spread to their five-month-old son.

"Because I know it's a lot worse for babies than for an older child," Harper's Mother Megan Peterson said.

RSV Resources

RSV Symptoms (CDC):
• Cough
• Stuffy or runny nose
• Sore throat
• Earache
• Fever
• Young infants may also lack energy and an appetite, be irritable and have breathing difficulties as the only symptoms.

Find out when to call your doctor


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