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KSTP's Alex Jokich warns other new parents about RSV after scare with her baby

Updated: January 10, 2020 07:25 PM

The flu is still considered widespread in Minnesota and now an alert for parents for another respiratory illness that impacts babies.

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Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a type of cold virus adults and kids get, but it hits babies hard.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS' Alex Jokich was traveling with her newborn baby, Noelle, over the holidays when her little girl got sick. She shared the story about what she calls "the worst week of her life" on her Facebook page Friday.

It started with Noelle having a cough, but then her breathing became strained. A few days later, they ended up in the emergency room with a diagnosis of RSV.

"It can be life-threatening for babies," said Dr. Stacene Maroushek, a pediatric infectious disease specialist with Hennepin Healthcare. "It's known to create a lot of mucus and a lot of swelling in the airways. And with little babies, their airways are really tiny. So when you have a lot of swelling and mucus in tiny airways, it tends to cause respiratory distress because they can't breathe because their airways are clogged up."

According to Dr. Maroushek, it starts with a low-grade fever, runny nose, and congestion. "And then they seem like they're doing OK. And one day, about four or five of the illness, the body starts really trying to wash this virus out, and it all of a sudden starts making lots and lots of mucus."

That's when she said parents will notice "Difficulty breathing; where they're really pulling in their ribs, they're sucking in their ribs to breathe. Their nose is maybe flaring out, or their nose is so congested that they can't feed well; that maybe they're not feeding well enough to have two or three wet diapers a day."

Dr. Maroushek said RSV can be severe, especially for infants, older adults and people with chronic health problems. As far as prevention, do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Keep people away from sick babies and make sure caregivers wash their hands before feeding babies.

The good news is Noelle is doing much better now.

According to the latest Weekly Influenza & Respiratory Illness Activity Report from the Minnesota Department of Health, there have been 429 hospitalizations in Minnesota from RSV this season. The vast majority are kids under 8 months old.

Alex's advice to other parents is to love your little's, trust your gut and count your blessings.

Dr. Maroushek's advice is if you have any concerns see your pediatrician immediately.

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Credits

Kevin Doran

Copyright 2020 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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