St. Peter's Health seeing steady stream of severe cases of RSV in kids

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Posted at 5:18 PM, Dec 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-15 10:20:09-05

HELENA — Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, infections have been rising here in Montana recently. While the virus often mimics the common cold, some are more impacted than others.

St. Peter’s Health has seen a steady, and somewhat overwhelming, stream of severe cases of RSV recently.

“And so, we've been very very full and very very busy on the children's unit here at St. Peter’s,” says Pediatric Hospitalist at St. Peter’s Health, Dr. Meaghan Lafferty.

RSV usually only causes mild, flu-like symptoms in adults, but it can be particularly harmful to children especially those under the age of one. Dr. Lafferty says a big sign to look out for is when breathing becomes labored.

Katie Gallagher, a former employee of St. Peter’s Health, has a seven-month-old child who recently spent 4 days in the hospital due to RSV.

“No parent wants to be in that position and then see their child go through that. And so, really a tough four days but glad that we were able to get home safe,” says Gallagher.

Thankfully, her child has now been released and is recovered.

Certain measures such as handwashing and wiping down surfaces can help keep you protected against RSV. And with RSV, the flu, and Covid affecting the country, getting vaccinated against other illnesses can help keep you and your family safe and reduce the burden on local healthcare providers.

“So, we're also seeing a lot of influenza coming around right now, so ideally you wouldn't want to be getting those two back-to-back. And so, if you can get a flu shot and anybody six months of age or older is eligible for a flu shot,” says Lafferty.