CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Congestive illnesses are on the rise in the Coastal Bend, especially Respiratory Syncytial Virus -- which is seeing a considerable spike this time of year compared to last year's numbers.
RSV cases at Driscoll Children's Hospital have more than tripled. Dr. Jaime Fergie, Director of Infectious Diseases at DCH, said the problem occurs when children go to school and bring the virus home. For the child they'll have mild symptoms, but for the baby, that's when things can get scary.
"It is happening earlier this year and it is happening in a way that is very severe and very sudden," he said.
Fergie said the virus normally strikes during the winter but it's early arrival is overwhelming.
"For RSV, we do not have a vaccine. For RSV, we only have medication to prevent it," he said.
The medicine is only given to a small number of babies who were born prematurely and have congenital heart disease or chronic lung disease.
"Four or five, six years of age, it's just going to be a common cold. But for the baby it's the possibilities therefore the pneumonia and bronchiolitis and the difficulty breathing," he said.
With the uptick of cognitive illnesses, symptoms are similar, like a runny nose and cough. However, Medical Director of Corpus Christi Medical Center ER 24/7 Portland, Dr. Conrad Cantu Jr. said RSV isn't tested in adults.
"Symptoms that people will have get less as they are re-infected with RSV, so by the time you're an adult, you've probably had multiple infections," he said.
The reality is, most adults won't get sick with RSV. But Cantu says the elderly population should be cautious.
"If you're elderly, you have a history of respiratory problems, there's a chance that RSV can cause a viral pneumonia or cause a more severe respiratory issue that requires hospitalization," he said.
Medical professionals are seeing an increase of flu cases as well. They say it's best to protect yourself and your children when it comes to viruses that are common this time of year.
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