TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – An increase in a respiratory disease called RSV is causing higher than normal numbers of hospitalizations in youth around the country.
The disease can be particularly harmful to children under the age of 2 and can even be deadly.
Vigo County Board of Health President Dr. Jim Turner said that hospitals in the Hoosier state, particularly in the Indianapolis area, with pediatric intensive care units are having to divert patients to other locations.
“Hospitals around the state that carry pediatric intensive care units are on diversion meaning they’re full,” Turner said. “You have to go to a different hospital so it’s really a serious condition right now.”
He mentioned that Union Hospital in Terre Haute currently has 12 RSV patients which is not nearly as bad as what others are experiencing. However, with cases increasing, he advises people to take precautions.
The main symptom of RSV is a wet cough. A runny nose or a low-grade fever can also be warning signs. Turner advised that parents with babies that are two months old or younger should keep that child at home and limit its exposure to people.
Basic hygiene such as hand washing can be a big help in preventing RSV from spreading. Although RSV causes little harm to adults, Vigo County Health Department Health Educator Shelby Jackson said that you can still transmit it to your little ones.
“Adults can even carry it and transmit it to younger children,” Jackson said. “They’re just more susceptible to have more severe complications from RSV.”
The increase of cases nationwide is very peculiar for many health professionals. RSV is a disease that pops up every year similar to the flu. However, it usually appears during the winter months. Dr. Turner said that it’s unusual to see RSV in October. This could be deadly for infants with RSV spreading in the middle of flu season.
“It could almost be a triple threat for young children with RSV, influenza and COVID all hitting the respiratory tract all at the same time,” Turner said. “It could be a fatal disease.”