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Spread of respiratory virus to babies on the rise

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Health officials have announced a rise in cases of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

The Centers for Disease Control describes RSV as a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. RSV can be serious, especially for young children.

“It causes respiratory issues that can exacerbate and potentially lead to harmful complications, such as breathing issues and possibly even up to death,” said Adam Karcz, the infection prevention director at Riley Hospital for Children.

RSV is spread through contact — including touching, hugging or kissing.

“The risk is there that you can spread viruses by kissing babies,” Karcz said.

The virus can even be spread by inanimate objects, like children’s toys, if they aren’t properly cleaned.

The CDC said RSV infections generally happen in fall, winter and spring. Each year in the U.S., more than 57,000 children younger than 5 years old are hospitalized because of RSV infection, according to the CDC.

Karcz says Riley restricts visitation right now, during flu season.

In fact, no sick visitors and only essential family members 18 or older can visit.

“Restrictions do work. It is a challenge sometimes, especially with it being before Christmas with family members. But the goal around restrictions is to help mitigate the spread of disease,” Karcz said.

Here’s how you can keep from spreading the infection:

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Don’t touch your face with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your couch.
  • Stay home if you’re sick.

Karcz you can also wipe down surfaces in your home with a disinfectant wipe or soap and water.

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