Local News

Area Hospitals Report High Numbers Of Respiratory Viruses

Posted January 17, 2006

— There is a word of caution for anyone with very young children. That cold you think they may have may not be a cold at all.

RSV Information From Centers For Disease Control

After 18 days at WakeMed, 1-year-old Elizabeth Markulic and her parents are ready to go home.

It all began Dec. 24.

"She wasn't feeling good Christmas Eve, just a little cold it seemed," said Elizabeth's mother, Christina Markulic.

Then, Elizabeth got worse. She was later diagnosed with RSV -- respiratory syncytial virus. RSV brings cold-like symptoms such as runny nose, congestion and coughing. Signs to look out for include wheezing or rapid, labored breathing and a low-grade fever.

"This virus is so common that almost every baby in the first year of life gets infected with it," said pediatrician Dr. Ben Alexander.

Alexander said very young children, especially those born prematurely like Elizabeth, can develop severe symptoms. Elizabeth needed a mechanical ventillator to help her breath. The Markulics discovered they were not the only RSV family at WakeMed.

"I think out of, I think it was 23 beds or something like that, there were 14 children here with RSV," said Chris Markulic, Elizabeth's father.

"Usually this virus is introduced into the family by an older child that picks it up at school, who probably just has a bad cold associated with it," Markulic said.

It makes proper germ protection practices vital. Washing hands and wiping down toys that are shared between children can prevent infection.

Many children born prematurely qualify for monthly injections of special antibodies to help prevent RSV, but it does not have the strength of a real vaccine.

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