IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - If your child experiencing troubles breathing, it may be more than just the flu. Another virus is spreading across the nation, affecting children under the age of 4 the most.
So how bad is the outbreak in eastern Idaho?
Currently, EIRMC is holding 26 children with the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). It's been one of the worst outbreaks of RSV in years. But the virus is preventable.
"It just really is alarming to us," said Dixie Weber, director of Women and Children's at EIRMC.
RSV can be carried by anyone. For adults, it brings common cold symptoms. With our strong immune system, adults can fight off the disease. BUt according to Tania Burns, Pediatric Intensivist, for children, "Oftentimes babies, the smaller ones, they only breathe through their nose, and this is a disease where the virus triggers and creates a lot of congestion."
Not knowing how to cough or sneeze to get rid of the mucus, this narrows the airways.
"They have a hard time breathing, they have a hard time eating, we often see them run high fevers and just general fatigue," said Weber.
Children who experience severe breathing problems may have to be hospitalized. At EIRMC's new pediatrics intensive care unit, doctors and nurses have used suctioning and chest therapy to loosen the muscus.
"Sometimes patients even need full support with a breathing tube and respirator to control their breathing so we can get rid of those secretions," said Burns.
And this strain of RSV has caused patients to stay up to a week in the hospital.
So how can you prevent the RSV virus from getting to your child?
"If you have anyone who's been sick in your family, restrict access to small children, but everything from touching grocery carts, to toys, anything that can hold a virus, that is how it will get passed," said Weber.
So washing your hands and staying isolated is key if you're experiencing an illness.
In past years, EIRMC's highest number of patients they experienced with the RSV virus was about 17 patients in one day. This year they're at 26.