Rise in 'RSV' respiratory virus cases causing busy hospitals throughout Wisconsin

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A record number of kids across Wisconsin and northern Illinois are being admitted to hospitals for a respiratory condition known as Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV, according to the CDC.

It is a common virus that represents itself as if it were a cold.

Currently, RSV hospitalizations make up approximately 10% of the patients admitted to the American Family Children’s Hospital.

So far, more that 350 children at UW Health have tested positive for it--that's three times the number of cases confirmed this time last year.

A doctor who works with kids said adults can also be affected, but in children, especially those younger than 18 months, the symptoms can be more extreme.

"It can cause what's called bronchiolitis, which is inflammation in the lower airway in kids, causing a lot of mucus, a lot of congestion, and it can make it difficult to breathe," said Dr. Joshua Ross, chief medical officer at American Family Children's Hospital.

This spike in cases, combined with COVID-19 and the flu, is making health systems very busy.

"We are experiencing very crowded conditions in our emergency departments and urgent cares, we're full, we're completely at capacity but the good news is we're working really together as a team and we're able to make sure that kids, no matter what their location are getting the care they need," said Dr. Ross.

Common symptoms include a runny nose, coughing, sneezing, congestion and fever.

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