CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) transmission is rising throughout the nation, with hospitals in the Northeast running out of bed spaces. Dr. Jonna, a local pediatric specialist at Carle Clinic Family Practice, confirms that RSV is also on the rise in the Champaign community for the second year in a row.

“We are seeing an earlier increase in RSV in transmission but saw this last season as well,” said Dr. Jonna.

Mara Bessie, an advanced practice registered nurse for OSF Healthcare, shared her concerns about the transmission of RSV, linking the early spread of RSV the fact that “people are not wearing masks, they are gathering in groups, and they are not as vigilant about washing hands.”

“We’re getting out more,” Bessie added. “We’re returning to daycares; we’re returning to school, and all those things we were doing to prevent COVID, we have gotten a little lax on. We have returned to normal activities, which has led to increased exposure to viruses of all kinds, which includes RSV.”

WCIA talked with a parent who says while COVID is still going around, she’s extra careful to keep her kids from getting sick.

“Keep their hands washed, you know cover their mouths when their coughing and sneezing and keep the germs down, sanitizer,” Melissa McClatchey of Champaign said.

Symptoms and complications

The virus attacks the respiratory system, which can cause the development of severe respiratory infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that “RSV can also cause more severe infections such as bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the small airways in the lung, and pneumonia, an infection of the lungs. It is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than one year.”

“The main worry is with kids under one, and adults over the age of 65 having an increased risk of having more symptoms,” Dr. Jonna said.

Additionally, those with compromised immune symptoms are also at risk for more severe symptoms. Jonna noted that if a baby does not have four wet diapers in 24 hours, parents must go to the ER.

“Especially for those under six months of age, with more affected with trouble breathing,” Jonna said. “Sometimes you would need to be hospitalized. If they are changing color or seem like they have stopped breathing, those are instances you would need to call 911.”

Prevention tips

Since RSV spreads through both surface contact and respiratory droplets, taking the following steps can reduce your risk of contracting RSV. These include washing your hands well, cleaning surfaces, staying home if you are sick, opting for a mask, and refraining from kissing babies.

“Masks would help decrease the transmission in the community,” Jonna said. “If you are sick, stay away, especially from babies and the elderly, so you are not transmitting viruses in the community, and if your child is sick, stay home.”