As RSV cases surge in Milwaukee, doctors urge parents to be more cautious this holiday season

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Children's Wisconsin has noted a surge in the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), reporting unprecedented numbers of hospitalized patients.

RSV causes mild cold-like symptoms affecting children younger than one year old. Most recover within a week or two. Others can have much more serious symptoms, causing bronchiolitis and pneumonia. Those severe cases are flooding the Children's Wisconsin emergency room. 

"We know our emergency room is seeing an unprecedented number of patients every day, more than we see in a viral season," said Dr. Rainer Gedeit, chief medical officer at Children's Wisconsin.

Dr. Gedeit said in a normal season, usually during the winter into spring, they see 20 to 25 hospitalized patients a day. At present, that number is between 50 to 60 patients a day. The doctor shared one reason why those numbers may have increased.

"There are many theories as to why we're seeing the number of RSV cases increase, some of it is the thought that we haven't had that immunity because of the distancing that has occurred over the past two years," said Dr. Gedeit.

He said important signs to look for include trouble breathing, nasal flaring, and if children can't eat or latch on. Since there is no vaccine, the doctor is urging parents to keep their children away from sick people come holiday season.

Dr. Gedeit said he's hopeful they'll see the number of hospitalized patients decrease within the next four weeks as they've seen patterns in the south already declining.

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