RSV Extremely Dangerous for Some Infants

Reporter:  Shannon Samson

Web Producer:  Amber Griswold

An illness that is going around this time of year is RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus.
It's dangerous for younger children. It sends more than a hundred thousand babies to the emergency room every year in this country
This disease is so prevalent that nearly every single child gets it by the age of two.  Still, some parents have never even heard of RSV.
Bob Neth of Evansville found out about it the hard way, during what's been a long, harrowing ordeal with his ten week old twins.
Joshua Neth is finally in his own hospital room after spending five days in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.  He's still on an IV, but off the ventilator, which is a complete relief to his parents who have not slept in days.
Bob Neth, father, said, "We could have lost him and you don't realize how quickly these guys can grow on you. So it's just, I don't know what we would have done had we not been here and they take care of us they way they did."
Two weeks ago, both Joshua and his twin brother Logan stopped eating.
Within days, they were both struggling to breathe. The diagnosis was RSV. 
Most kids will get over it in a few days, but it can be deadly to premature babies, those with congenital or chronic diseases or the very, very young who only breathe through their noses.
David Schultz, M.D., family physician, explained, "So, when they have respiratory distress, instead of compensating by opening their mouths, they tend to flare their nostrils open wider to allow more air through the nostril. This, in itself, actually reduces the ability of air movement through the nostril and therefore can get the child into more respiratory distress."
Since it's a virus, RSV doesn't respond to antibiotics. In the P.I.C.U., doctors can do little more than manage symptoms and try to prevent secondary illnesses like ear infections or pneumonia.
For Joshua, it's the flu that's adding to his troubles. He didn't get to go home with his brother on Wednesday, but he is getting better. Still, this has been an ordeal that his dad hopes no one else has to experience.

He gave this advice,  "Don't wait to get your babies checked out, especially the young ones. The older you get the easier it is to fight off, but when they're little, they can't fight it and it can go downhill so quickly and it's scary, real scary."

RSV is so dangerous for premature babies that most of them get a shot every month of the vaccine Synagis.
But it's really expensive and not available to the rest of the infant population.
So is there anything parents can do to keep their kids from getting RSV?
Hand-washing, not letting them put things in their mouths and keeping them away from sick kids and adults are all things that could help prevent RSV.  
Adults do get RSV, but it's usually just a runny nose for us. If we transmit it to an infant, you can see the consequences.