Doctors warn families as RSV cases rise in Indiana hospitals

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Doctors are urging parents to continue taking precautions as some viral infections are on the rise in Indiana.

RSV is a respiratory illness that normally infects children in the colder months, but doctors said kids are getting sick much earlier this year.

Rachel Peterson, pediatric hospitalist at Riley Hospital for Children, said she’s seeing a handful of RSV patients every day, which is rare for the summer months.

The increase in illness has caused Riley to tighten hospital restrictions once again.

“The rise has been pretty exponential. It almost looks like we’re in the middle of winter if you look at the RSV data,” said Peterson.

Peterson said the virus can affect people of all ages, but it’s most severe in young children and infants. The symptoms are similar to a cold, but can become serious very quickly.

“We’re seeing these kids admitted to the PICU, the pediatric ICU, filling up beds there and even on our hospitalist and pulmonary teams as well,” said Peterson.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control issued a new warning last week after seeing an increase in RSV cases in southern states. Doctors here say Indiana is not far behind. According to the CDC, this year some children may be at risk for more serious cases of RSV because they were not exposed to it during the pandemic.

The illness accounts for 58,000 hospitalizations and between 100 and 500 deaths among children under the age of 5 each year. Peterson said things we’ve done to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, like wearing masks and social distancing, can also help slow RSV rates.

“It’s really hard though because I have kids myself and I can’t keep them out of daycare and I’m not gonna keep them away from each other. I think that it’s caught everybody including parents off guard this summer because it’s just not normally when we see this and when our guard is up,” said Peterson.

There’s no specific treatment for the virus. Peterson said if you notice your child’s cold becoming more severe, and especially if their breathing seems off, to take them to a hospital.