It’s peak season for a dangerous respiratory virus affecting infants


by Cynthia Gould, ABC 3340


It’s cold, flu and RSV season. Never heard of RSV? You’re not alone. After her son was hospitalized with RSV, mom Shanisty Ireland was on a mission to be sure others were warned about the dangers.

Her son Adam was a healthy, full term baby before he got the virus and ended up in the ICU at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio. He was just five weeks old.

Shanisty has used her blog and done several interviews for news stories to help spread the word about RSV. The former Birmingham television news anchor and reporter now lives in Ohio. She has a popular blog: Shanisty Ireland, She’s Becoming Domestic where she shares stories about family and parenting. The story of young Adam’s serious illness and recovery was one she knew she had to tell.

She soon became alarmed at Adam’s breathing and sent a video to a relative who is a nurse. That family member advised her to get to the emergency room.

Adam spent five days in ICU on a breathing machine. “He was really close to dying. It was so terrifying. It went from your son has a virus to being hooked up on machines fighting for his life,” says Shanisty.

She found other parents were also unaware of RSV. “You rarely hear about RSV and how dangerous it can be,” remarks Shanisty.

The CDC has a lot of information to help parents on the agency’s website. RSV is short for Respiratory syncytial virus. It’s a common respiratory virus. Usually you will see mild cold like symptoms with recovery time a week or two. But with children under a year old or older adults, it can move to a more serious illness. That includes bronchiolitis and pneumonia.

It is the leading cause of hospitalization for children under a year old. Any issues with breathing should always be reported to your pediatrician and your child checked. The peak season for RSV is now through April.

Dr. Elizabeth Luke with Over the Mountain Pediatrics explains symptoms include sneezing, coughing and a runny nose like a cold. The virus is just as common, if not more common than the flu.

Dr. Luke says the best way to protect your family: lots of handwashing, disinfect hard surfaces like counter tops, and don’t share eating utensils. “What makes RSV so dangerous is that you get it with direct contact like kissing a baby or someone sneezes on a counter top then you touch it,” remarks Dr. Luke.


Almost all children will be infected with RSV by their second birthday.

RSV usually causes mild respiratory illness, but it can be serious, especially in infants and older adults.

RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than 1 year of age.

In the U.S., RSV infections generally occur during fall, winter, and spring.