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'It just kind of exploded': Doctors see unusual spike in RSV cases

RSV is a respiratory virus that can strike anyone, but it is particularly prevalent in young children.

KOKOMO, Ind. — Pediatricians are seeing an unusual spike in RSV cases — a common virus normally not around until the winter months.

"In July, we started seeing some cases pop up and we were like, 'That’s kind of unusual.' And from there it just kind of exploded," said Dr. Laura Stage, a Kokomo pediatrician who is part of the Community Heath Network.

RSV is a respiratory virus that can strike anyone, but it is particularly prevalent in young children.

"It looks a lot like a regular cold but it tends to have more severe symptoms," Stage said. "Really runny, snotty nose, and it causes kids to have difficulty breathing — difficulty keeping their oxygen levels up."

13News reported in July that doctors and nurses at IU Health Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis were seeing up to five cases a day and tightened visitor restrictions to four people per patient. That has since been further restricted to two visitors per patient. The same restrictions are in place at Methodist Hospital as well.

RELATED: Spike in RSV cases in Indiana has hospitals taking precautions

RELATED: Riley Hospital sees increase in pediatric cases as delta variant surges

What’s causing the surge in cases?

Doctors say the pandemic kept people home last year. But now, communities have reopened and kids are back together doing summer activities and now daycare and school.

"Please, please keep your kids home if they're sick," Stage said. "Because once that RSV gets into the daycare, it spreads like wildfire."

Hospitalizations for RSV are rare, but doctors say babies — especially premature infants — are particularly vulnerable to complications.