TULSA, Okla. — Doctors and hospitals are already overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases. Now, another respiratory virus is increasing their caseload.
RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus, is infecting a high number of children.
Saint Francis Children's Hospital is currently treating 12 children sick with RSV. It's the lowest number they've had in several weeks.
“We’re running much fuller than we would in a normal summer, mostly with kids that are infected with the RSV virus," said Cliff Robertson, president and CEO of Saint Francis Health.
RSV is a common lung and respiratory virus that’s worse in children.
Melissa Beeler’s daughter, Savanna, is only two and a half months old and recently became sick.
“It’s terrifying," Beeler said. "I mean, it was emotional. I’m just looking at this little baby and you know their lungs aren’t very developed and they’re just so tiny and they don’t have much to fight with.”
Beeler said she noticed something was wrong when Savanna started coughing and became congested. A trip to the pediatrician confirmed she had RSV.
“We were really concerned about her choking on mucus because she kept choking and vomiting," Beeler said. "And it was just terrifying, the whole time she was congested. So until that really loosened up we just could not sleep well.”
RSV can appear just like a cold. But there are some symptoms that could indicate your child needs to see a doctor. Those include high fever, severe cough, wheezing and trouble breathing.
If your child is sick enough, they could potentially go to Saint Francis Children’s Hospital. It’s been averaging 20 or more RSV patients per day for the last several weeks. Something that’s not common this time of year.
“We’ve seen what we would normally see in the fall and in Nov. and Dec. in terms of the number of cases of RSV, we’re seeing in July and Aug. which is very atypical," Robertson said.
Doctors said the high number of RSV cases could be because families were taking COVID precautions last winter, which also helped mitigate the spread of RSV.
After about a week of being sick, Savanna is now much better. Beeler encourages parents to get their child checked out if they think something is wrong.
“As a parent, you kind of have an intuition if something’s not right, just definitely go to the doctor and get it checked out because I’m so glad that we did," she said.
Doctors say the best way to prevent RSV is similar to COVID. Wash your hands, disinfect things and surfaces, avoid crowds and sick people and wear a mask.
You can learn more about RSV here.
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