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Spike in RSV cases in Indiana has hospitals taking precautions

RSV, common among children, causes cold-like symptoms that can make breathing especially hard for infants.

INDIANAPOLIS — RSV, a respiratory virus that usually spreads in the fall and winter when kids are in school, is making the rounds now.

That's prompted one health care provider to take added precautions to keep its vulnerable patients safe.

Riley Hospital for Children expanded its current NICU RSV restrictions to maternity units at Riley and Methodist hospitals. Those restrictions limit the number of visitors.

Riley pediatric hospitalist Dr. Rachel Peterson said they're now seeing up to five pediatric cases a day at Riley.

"We really don't want vulnerable kids already admitted here to get a virus that might risk their lives," she said.

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RSV, common among children, causes cold-like symptoms that can make breathing especially hard for infants.

"There are increased secretions and they just might not be able to keep up with the work of breathing," Peterson said.

Credit: WTHR

Other symptoms include a cough, runny nose and sneezing, irritability and fever.

There is no treatment, just supportive care such as oxygen and keeping patients hydrated until the virus runs its course. Parents can also use a humidifier in their child’s room to help loosen congestion and keep the head of the bed elevated.  

So why is there a surge of cases now?

Peterson said after the pandemic kept people home last year, they're now back in the community and exposing themselves to the virus. She also noted the measures that protected people from COVID-19, such as masks and social distancing, have been lifted. Those same measures also protected people from other viruses like RSV.