RSV...The Grinch Who Spoils Many Toddlers' Holidays

Media Resources

Jill Chadwick

News Director

Office: (913) 588-5013

Cell: (913) 223-3974


           Three little initials can spell misery for children two-years-old and younger. “It stands for Respiratory Syncytial Virus,” says Michael Lewis, MD, medical director of pediatric in-patient and pediatric ICU at The University of Kansas Health System. “Just about every child becomes infected at some point and December marks the start of this virus here in the Midwest.”

            Five patients were admitted in just 48 hours to the Health System.  While healthy children typically experience mild, cold-like symptoms and recover in a week or two, some children can turn very sick, very quickly.  It’s estimated 75,000 to 125,000 children will be hospitalized this year in the United States.  World-wide, the virus kills 160,000 people. Infants through age two and the elderly are most at risk. 

            There are two worries with RSV that Dr. Lewis says can signal to parents that it’s the virus and not a cold.  “If your child is producing constant, heavy mucus and if they are breathing more rapidly than normal, then you should seek medical attention.”

            Children with these two symptoms often become dehydrated quickly which is very dangerous in small children.  Dr. Lewis says if you’re child has six normal diapers a day and suddenly you’re down to one diaper change, then seek medical attention.  Some children will spike a fever, but not always.  The doctor says the biggest danger is dehydration and the mucus production turning into a bacterial infection such as pneumonia.

            In the video, Dr. Lewis has more advice to offer and symptoms to share related to RSV.  The b-roll shows non-identifiable babies in the hospital.