CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The first pediatric flu-related death in West Virginia marks the nation’s fifth this flu season, but it’s not the only respiratory illness affecting children. That’s according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Christy Robinson, who works for Capital City Pediatrics, said she’s seen several cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the flu at her office this year.
Both are common respiratory viruses that happen this time of year, but she said there are a few differences between the two.
“Usually with flu, the classic presentation are those high fevers, so usually they’ll spike, sometimes they can spike as high as 103, 104,” she said. “With RSV they don’t always present with those high fevers. Sometimes they start with just a runny nose, sometimes a fever but then it just progresses into a worsening cough.”
Cindy Briggs-Biondi, a Charleston resident, has three kids that recently recovered from RSV. Her youngest daughter had it the worst and was hospitalized for four days.
“It was the middle of the night and one of my twins was having a really hard time breathing. She was doing this kind of belly breathing and was super congested and couldn’t stop coughing,” she said. “I just had this feeling in my gut that I had to go ahead and take her to the hospital.”
Biondi said her children have since recovered, but she’s going to continue taking precautions and advises other parents to do the same.
“It is kind of nerve-wracking because there’s so much stuff going around and RSV for instance doesn’t have a vaccine,” she said. “So, it’s just like, okay let’s do the best we can to mask and wash hands and be careful and hope for the best.”
Dr. Robinson said those most susceptible of RSV and the flu are children and older adults, but there are several ways to prevent illness including washing your hands, covering your cough and sneezes and staying home while you’re sick.
A full list of symptoms and treatments for the flu and RSV can be found on the CDC’s website.