RSV infections are running rampant in Nebraska as positive tests more than triple

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — With Nebraska reporting a big spike in RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, parents will want to keep a closer eye on their little ones this fall.

The state has more than three times the infections that it had at this time last year, according to the latest data from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

Nebraska reported 297 positive tests for the week ending Oct. 1.  This same time last year, that number was only 93.

Emergency department visits are also trending upward, with 192 during this latest period, compared to 176 in 2021.

Shannon Godsil, a general pediatrician with Children’s Physicians, said that during the height of the pandemic, cases of RSV went down, likely due to masking and social distancing.

Godsil says typically, older adults with RSV will only develop nasal congestion or a cough, but in small children, the virus can get much more serious.

“In kids, especially those under 6 months, what we tend to see are increased work of breathing or quick breathing,” she said. “We can see decreased appetite, decreased wet diapers, so it can be really, really worrisome in that age group.”

Godsil says if you have a small child, be sure to look out for a decrease in appetite and any struggles with breathing, especially if they’re coughing or wheezing.

“About 3% of children who end up getting diagnosed with RSV end up getting hospitalized,” Godsil said. “For our kids that are working lots harder to breathe, sometimes we need to do oxygen. And for kids who aren’t eating, sometimes we have to do IV fluids.”

The CDC warns that RSV can be especially dangerous for some infants and young children and that the virus isn’t always severe when it first strikes.

There is also the possibility of developing pneumonia or other infections.

“If you noticed that your child is getting better from RSV bronchiolitis, but now all of a sudden, we have new onset fevers or new symptoms that they didn’t have previously, you really should see your pediatrician because this is when we really worry about developing an ear infection or pneumonia,” Godsil said.

The Cleveland Clinic says telling the difference between RSV and COVID-19 can be difficult, so calling your family’s pediatrician is your best bet.

It also emphasizes that parents should definitely make an appointment if symptoms linger or get worse after five days.

“It’s not always easy to completely avoid these situations,” Godsil said. She says hand-washing and making sure children get all their recommended vaccinations can help prevent these viruses.

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