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Children's hospital sees record number of RSV cases

Chris Caya/WBFO News

A record number of babies and young children with a highly contagious respiratory virus have been admitted to Oishei Children's Hospital in Buffalo recently.

Dr. Stephen Turkovich says Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) has hit Oishei Children's Hospital "pretty bad." Turkovich says in adults and older children, RSV causes the common cold. But in a small percentage of babies it can lead to viral pneumonia.   
"They're presenting initially with cold symptoms and then they develop some pretty significant breathing problems," Turkovich said.

RSV usually hits in December or January. But this year the first case at Children's was in September and, he says, the Emergency Room and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit are breaking records.  
"For the last couple of years we've seen 60 to 70 upwards of 80 kids admitted [by] this time. As of Monday, we've had over 200 kids that have been admitted with RSV. Our ICU, upto this point of the year, usually has got 10 to 20 kids admitted and we've had over 60 admitted since November."
Turkovich says the highest risk patients are less than 6-months of age, premature babies, kids less than two who have a chronic lung or chronic heart disease and anybody with a supressed immune system.  
"The most significant distinguishing factor between calling your pediatrician or going to an urgent care is whether or not your child is having any difficulty breathing. If you notice that they're breathing fast. If their ribs look like they're getting sucked in, like they're using their extra muscles to help them breathe, those are indications that you should come to the hospital immediately," Turkovich said.

The doctor says frequent hand washing and disinfecting surfaces are the best way to help prevent RSV. And he urges people with small babies to avoid large crowds and anybody's who's sick.