Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) often mistaken for flu in babies

(WMC Action News 5)
Updated: Nov. 5, 2018 at 3:41 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - This is the time of year when babies start to come down with a virus that parents may mistake for the cold or flu, but it’s actually something much more serious.

“It never crossed my mind that a full term otherwise healthy baby could be so sick to the point that they needed intubation,” said one mother.

It's something most parents have never heard of, and it doesn’t discriminate. 98 Degrees lead singer Nick Lachey and his wife Vanessa shared their recent battle after their baby was diagnosed and hospitalized for six days with RSV.

RSV is a virus that causes a flu-like illness, specifically in babies. But RSV is not the flu.

"It’s actually more serious in babies than influenza,” said Dr. John DeVincenzo.

Dr. DeVincenzo is an infectious disease specialist with Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and the UT Health Science Center. He’s one of the world’s leading experts on RSV.

He said it causes 15 times the number of hospitalizations as the flu and 10 times as many deaths.

"Right now, RSV is present in our community in a little bit of an epidemic,” said Dr. DeVincenzo.

Since October, 60 children have been diagnosed at Le Bonheur.

Unfortunately, the only treatment is experimental, so he encourages parents to focus on prevention like limiting physical contact between their babies and older children who can easily spread the virus.

Experts said just knowing about it can go a long way.

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