This respiratory virus is rising in the region — and it’s not COVID

Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 7:07 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Health experts around the country have warned parents about rising cases of RSV, a respiratory illness that tends to impact young children.

And that’s on top of the flu and COVID going around.

We’ve learned Children’s Hospital of Georgia has four kids with respiratory syncytial virus, 30 cases so far in October.

We talked to doctors at Augusta University Health and the Children’s Hospital of Georgia to see how many cases they’re seeing in our area and how the hospitals are preparing if they see a spike.

Locally, flu numbers and RSV numbers are on the rise, and both are earlier than expected, puzzling doctors. A local doctor researching RSV says when his son had it years ago, it was a scary experience.

“I remember being very worried about the rapidity with which he was breathing, and his heart rate and his heart rate was up 180 or so,” said Dr. Rodger MacArthur, professor of medicine, division of infectious diseases, Medical College of Georgia.

MacArthur’s personal account of what he experienced years ago is what so many families across the nation are dealing with right now.

He says with RSV symptoms it’s hard to distinguish from other diseases going around.

“It looks like the flu. For that matter. It looks like COVID-19 in many ways, temperature elevation, difficulty breathing, things like that,” he said.

Pediatric infectious diseases physician Dr. Ingrid Camelo says since the middle of October, COVID is at one of the lowest rates she’s seen. For the flu and RSV, she says it’s way higher than normal, and when both have high rates, it could turn ugly.

“We have a lot of children admitted here to the hospital. And then this combination between influenza and RSV is just terrible because you have two viruses at the same time trying to compete for the lungs,” she said.

Even with more children being admitted, the Children’s Hospital of Georgia isn’t close to full capacity.

MacArthur says the spike is not going away for a couple of months and to monitor your child, especially if a fever develops.