Respiratory virus cases up during colder weather

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – With the change in season and low temperatures, everyone is staying inside, which means folks are in close contact and germs are spreading.

A highly contagious lung and respiratory infection is going around, and it can be deadly for infants less than a year old.

“This is what we call respiratory viral season,” said Dr. Alex Dalzell, who specializes in pediatric infectious disease at Brody School of Medicine.

Doctors are seeing a spike in a virus. That could be deadly, and chances are your kids could be exposed.

“RSV or respiratory syncytial virus is an incredibly common virus,” said Dalzell. “If you look at studies, if you are a child 2 years and under, you have a 100 percent chance of getting it, but not everybody has symptoms.”

The Centers for Disease Control reports 1.5 million children are treated for RSV every year, and more than 150,000 have to be hospitalized, most often young infants.

The symptoms of RSV are similar to a common cold in healthy patients.

“They all present very similarly in children under 2,” said Dalzell. “They get wheezing. They have trouble breathing. They get these really bad snotty noses.”

For babies with developing breathing tubes, especially those born prematurely, RSV can be deadly.

Dalzell did say, however, that there is no need to panic, and he explained the virus can be spread by touching what is called the “T” — the eyes, nose and mouth.

“If you fool with your nose or you’re kind of touching that area, scratching your eye, that’s how you get it on your hands, and you usually spread it to somebody else,” Dalzell said.

Dalzell has treated RSV in babies for years and said parents should pay attention to their child’s symptoms.

“Because you have an attack rate at almost 100 percent under the age of 2, that’s a lot of children, so even if it’s a small percentage (that) get sick enough to be in the hospital, that’s a lot of children”

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