Inland Northwest hospitals seeing spread of respiratory illness called RSV

KOOTENAI COUNTY, ID. — Parents across the country are trying to protect their young children and babies from a virus that can be life-threatening.

Right now, there is a respiratory illness spreading nationwide earlier than usual. The disease is called Respiratory Syncytial Virus, better known as RSV.

Dr. Vanessa Carroll M.D., a pediatrician at Kootenai Health, says the cold-like virus hit the Inland Northwest early this year and it’s hitting kids more aggressively. Carroll says they are seeing more virus spread, and being prepared will help keep your family safe.

Carroll added they are starting to see more admissions for RSV. More than 95 percent of children get RSV, even before their second birthday.

“For the vast majority of us… it will be like [the] common cold,” Carroll said. “Cough… runny nose…nasal congestion… maybe even low-grade fever.”

Carroll says a certain age group is more vulnerable to this virus, which can be life-threatening, especially with babies, in particular those who are born pre-mature and those who might have general heart diseases or chronic lung diseases.

RSV presents differently than COVID-19 or the flu. Carroll says you should take notice of symptoms like not eating or drinking, becoming dehydrated, difficulty breathing, or nasal flaring.

Furthermore, if your child’s skin has a bluish color, that is an important sign that it’s time to go to the emergency room. If your child has regular flu or cold symptoms, stay home.

“We also make sure we really push fluids,” Carroll said. “Keep them hydrated. We also want to make sure they are blowing their nose and clearing their secretion. If they are too young to do that you want to bulb-suction it.”

Carroll says pediatricians at local clinics can screen your kids for RSV.

RELATED: RSV vaccine trial for older adults coming soon to Spokane

READ: First flu-related death of the season reported in Spokane

READ: How to prepare your family for what could be a bad flu season