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RSV Leads To Record Pediatric Patient Numbers

February 21, 2012, 6:12 PM by Kellee Azar

RSV Leads To Record Pediatric Patient Numbers
SIOUX FALLS, SD - It's not often that a child winds up in the hospital while battling something as simple as the common cold.

But the cold virus known as RSV is among the reasons why Sanford Children's Hospital just broke an all-time record for the most patients in its pediatric intensive care unit.

The dangerous virus is not only helping to fill hospital beds, it's also causing some sleepless nights for the parents of young babies.

RSV is something Marena Nachtigall was familiar with, but it was the hospitalization of her one-month old daughter Eden that surprised her.

"It was kind of a shock that it was that serious, but you know, and partly because of her age and because she is so young," Nachtigall said.

What starts out like a common cold can quickly lead to hospitalization with one major change in your health.

"Then usually kids start having difficulty breathing. That's the main thing. High fever, decrease in intake, they stop eating and drinking, wheezing, that whistling sound," Director of the Pediatric Hospitalist for Sanford Children Dr.Yamen Smadi said.

For baby Eden, that's exactly how it happened.

"The first several days she was having a hard time breathing and just obviously not feeling good. And they did some tests to see if she had pneumonia, which she did, and so those first several days were pretty stressful because you know, it's not fun to watch your child be sick and be in pain," Nachtigall said.

Now after a week, Eden is on the mend and almost back to her usual self.

"The last several days, she has been feeling a lot better. We are basically just here to continue the antibiotic course to clear up the pneumonia. She's feeling a lot better," Nachtigall said.

RSV is common this time of year, and easily spread.

"It's mainly through direct contact, but it could be inhaled through the droplets. But that's how it is transmitted," Smadi said.

Having RSV acts much like a cold and in most cases can be treated at home.

"If they just have runny nose and congestion, but are running around eating and having normal activity, it is just like a common cold whether it is RSV or not," Smadi said.

However, there is a time when at-home treatments just won't work.

"If you feel it's wheezing to the degree that you can't catch your breath or if it's significant fever that doesn't break down, then they have to see medical attention," Smadi said.

RSV usually requires hospitalization for babies under six months. RSV season runs from November through April and peaks around this time of year.

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