Avera Medical Minute: What parents should know about RSV

MILBANK, S.D. - It's that time of year when doctors see a spike in viral illnesses in kids, especially RSV. But what are the signs you need to look for to decide if your child should be taken to the hospital? One mom from Milbank shares her story.

"Even when he's sick, this is his demeanor and he'll look at you and smile," Lacey Busack said.

She said it can be deceiving then when her son, Carter, is sick. He's 17 months old, and it's been less than one month since he was released from the Milbank Hospital.

"It's scary because he had it last year, so I knew what to expect and just how bad it can be for children," she said.

Carter was admitted to treat symptoms for Respiratory Syncytial Virus, which is more commonly known as RSV.

"When it affects infants primarily, infants and very young children, they can get very ill with it," Dr. Kevin Bjordahl said. "But for the rest of us, it's just another cold."

Dr. Bjordahl practices family medicine at the Milbank Area Hospital. He said the symptoms for kids start like any other cold, like congestion and coughing.

"And then within two or three days, usually they'll start developing more wheezing and shortness of breath," he said. "What you need to watch for with infants that have that if they are working too hard to breath. You can tell that by retracting under their ribs or they're just breathing rapidly."

He said a fever that can't be controlled or that is higher than 104 degrees can also be signs your child needs to see a doctor.

"He spiked a fever of 105.6. We couldn't get his fever under control, and that was really scary," Busack said.

"Also if they're not taking in their fluids. If they're not staying hydrated, then they're going to get worse too," Dr. Bjordahl said.

Kids are usually just in the hospital for a few days.

"It's mainly just supportive with oxygen and fluids," Dr. Bjordahl said.

"Because for RSV, you really can't do much. You just gotta ride it out," Busack said.

But Busack said don't delay taking your child to the Emergency Room.

"RSV is very scary. I would say it's nothing to sit on and wait. If a fever spikes, take them in," Busack said.

This is because Dr. Bjordahl said some children can be more prone to complications.

He also said most kids will be exposed to RSV by the time they're 2.
Daycares are one of the most common places where the virus is spread.