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Addressing Wisconsin's rising Respiratory Syncytial Virus cases

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 17: A child puts her mask back on after finishing lunch at a socially distanced table in the cafeteria of Medora Elementary School on March 17, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. Today marks the reopening of Jefferson County Public Schools for in-person learning with new COVID-19 procedures in place. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)
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A child puts her mask back on after finishing lunch at a socially distanced table in the cafeteria

The Respiratory Virus or RSV, is stressing the health system, with cases on the rise, especially in children.

Dr. John Ross is the chief medical officer at American Family Children's Hospital in Madison and a pediatric emergency medicine physician with UW Health Kids. He shares what is happening.

He explains that while RSV is actually a very common virus, the rates that hospitals are treating infected patients has sky rocketed.

"RSV, for most folks, it's a cough cold, maybe a little bit of a fever. Children, however, particularly those under 18 months of age, can get what's called bronchiolitis, and that is when you get inflammation of the lower airways, making it difficult for them to breathe. They can need some help with typically basic things work, and most kids actually do well—suctioning their nose, making sure they stay hydrated," says Ross.

He adds, still, the younger the child, the harder it can be for them to breathe on their own and older adults with preexisting health problems are at higher risk as well.

Children's hospitals and emergency departments are at capacity in the midwest and every part of the country.

Ross explains that the country may be seeing so many cases of RSV because many people haven't been around each other for a while due to COVID-19 the past two years.

To prevent infection of RSV, Ross suggests the basics.

"It's washing your hands, if you're sick, please stay home, take care of yourself. If you have just a little bit of a runny nose, maybe think about wearing a mask and try not to spread to others. That that's really the way we're going to all take care of our community," says Ross.

Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
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