LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – In states across the country, medical professionals are reporting a rise in Respiratory syncytial virus cases, otherwise known as RSV. 

Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) also says they are seeing an increase in kids with the virus, as parents say they are doing everything they can to protect their kids from the illness. 

Chief Clinical & Academic Officer OF ACH, Dr. Rick Barr says RSV season is typically seen in late December and early January, however, Dr. Barr believes the pandemic is the cause of the rapid arrival of RSV cases in children. 

“We all get it [RSV] every year, it’s not just limited to adults. Each year when we get a cold it’s probably RSV which is one of the most common causes.” However, Dr. Barr says “we’re seeing a pretty dramatic rise in RSV. What’s unusual is that we have seen RSV season shift.

Dr. Barr says the RSV season has moved up to where they’re now seeing the same numbers they would in January but now months ahead. 

He adds the RSV seasonal change has put a strain on hospital personnel, as ACH and other hospitals across the nation are experiencing a staffing shortage. Although Dr. Barr doesn’t say what the percentage is of RSV cases in ACH, he does say they won’t stop taking patients who have RSV or not. 

“We are the only children’s hospital in the state, we never close. So we will always find a way to take care of kids that need our help but this is a regional and national problem.” Dr. Barr goes on to say, “we have actually gotten kids transferred from Oklahoma here because of RSV that we now need to help take care of. So, it really has taxed the healthcare field nationally.”

Dr. Barr says some of the most common symptoms of RSV are congestion, runny nose, fever and an ear infection, which he says kids can stay at home for or go to their pediatrician. However in young infants and children, Dr. Barr says parents should be aware of a high fever, and respiratory distress as difficulty breathing and wheezing may occur which may require hospitalization. 

“High fever and problem breathing. If they are breathing so hard that they are having trouble feeding, nursing, or taking a bottle, we want to see them [at the hospital]. Dr. Barr adds, “usually, if a child needs a mission to the hospital it’s because they need Oxygen.”

Audriana Youssef says she is the mother of 2-year-old Cairo who on Sunday was taken to the ACH after he experienced breathing hard and had a wheezing cough. 

“It was getting really bad to where he couldn’t breathe, his breathing was really contracted.” Youssef goes on to say, “he had to be transferred into a room and put on oxygen and an IV since he wasn’t eating or drinking. 

Youssef says Cairo tested positive for RSV, but after receiving oxygen treatment he was released on Tuesday. 

Dr. Barry says there is no vaccine for RSV yet, but the best way to prevent the spread is by washing your hands since it spreads by droplets. 

He adds parents should monitor their child’s breathing and make sure their nose has a clear airway.  Furthermore, if a child does have RSV, a common tool Dr. Barr says is okay to use is a suction tube to keep their nose clear. Most importantly, Dr. Barr suggests not using any medication or at-home remedies.

“There are no at-home remedies and no medications, in fact, most of the medications out there will have side effects more than they would do good for infants with RSV,” said Dr. Barr. 

He adds the virus typically lasts for a week or two. He says if a child does test positive for RSV, they shouldn’t go to school or daycare, instead heal at home and make an appointment with a pediatrician.