You Should Know About RSV

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Image via adapted via iStock

Winter brings colder weather, snow days, and bundled up nights. Winter also brings illness. 

Recognizing the common seasonal illnesses, knowing when to see a doctor, and following a few simple steps to avoid illness can help get your year off to a healthy start. 

Where should you begin?  

See your children’s primary care physician for an annual checkup at the start of the year.

Work with your children’s doctor to determine what seasonal vaccinations, such as the flu vaccine, are appropriate for your children.

Know the signs and symptoms of several of the most common winter illnesses, including:

Have you heard of RSV?

Even though it's a common virus, contracted by almost all children by the time they turn 2, many parents don't even recognize the name. In many ways it can resemble the flu or a cold, but it can become much more serious and dangerous quickly, especially for children with compromised or immature immune systems or underdeveloped lungs. RSV season runs from November through March, so it's important to continue good practices, such as the following:

  • Wash your hands and ask others to do the same.
  • Keep toys, clothes, blankets, and sheets clean.
  • Avoid crowds and other young children during RSV season.

Today we're sharing this info, along with additional tips and a very personal story, so that parents can better understand RSV. We're lucky to have William P. Hitchcock, M.D. and parent advocate Kari Judson here to talk to us about this illness. We want to let you know that Kari's story is a tough one to hear – but it is one we're very grateful to her for sharing. 

William P. Hitchcock, M.D.

Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of California at San Diego School of Medicine

Attending Pediatrician, Rady Children’s Hospital

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Founder, La Jolla Pediatrics and La Costa Pediatrics

Dr. William Hitchcock is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. Dr. Hitchcock has an interest in Allergy and Asthma as well as Infectious Disease and Vaccines. He has been involved in clinical research in asthma and allergy and clinical trials involving antimicrobials and vaccines. His publications in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, Western Journal of Medicine, Clinical Research, Journal of Respiratory Disease, Contemporary Pediatrics, Clinical Pediatrics, Consultant for Pediatricians, and Advances in Therapy include subject areas such as Meningococcal Disease, Parainfluenza Infections, Adolescent Pertussis, Immunization Schedules, Rotavirus Infections, Inhaled Corticosteroids, and Asthma Management in Children.

Dr. Hitchcock is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a member of the A.A.P. Sections on Community Pediatrics, School Health, Pharmacy and Therapeutics, and Sports Medicine. He is the coordinator of the San Diego chapter of the A.A.P. Pediatric Research in Office Setting (PROS) Committee, a member of Community Health Improvement Partners-Immunize San Diego, and a member of the Society for Clinical Pediatrics.

Dr. Hitchcock has presented nationally at the American Association of Respiratory Care, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology as well as the New Jersey and Pennsylvania chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics and given grand rounds at Children’s Hospital Fort Worth, Scripps Hospital La Jolla, Scripps Mercy Hospital, Kaiser Permanente San Diego, the Public Health Departments throughout Oregon, Texas, and California He has appeared on numerous newscasts and in newspapers and was voted “Top Doc” by his peers in San Diego in 2002 and 2007.

Dr. Hitchcock is the proud father of four boys and one girl and a granddaughter who lives in Italy. He loves the outdoors, travel, reading and music.

Kari Judson

Alexander and Dominic Judson were born to parents Kari and Lyle on January 4, 2008 at 36 weeks and 2 days gestational age.  As their birth weights were on the healthy side (4.7lbs and 4.13 lbs), they were considered full term for twins. They thrived in their first few days and their lung functioning proved to be normal. Since the Alexander and Dominic were doing well and healthy, they were sent home, even before their mother was released.

The first 11 months of their lives were illness-free, until Alexander became lethargic and felt slightly feverish.  He was brought to the E.R., and shortly after crashed three times from bronchial spasms. He was airlifted to Egleston Children's Hospital with a severe case of RSV. His brain function was normal throughout the flight but upon landing, his brain function ceased and he was put on life support.  Unfortunately, Kari and Lyle had to face a parent’s worst nightmare, and decided to remove him from life support and donate his organs.

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Meanwhile, as Alexander was being airlifted, Dominic was also facing RSV, with his infection growing in severity. He required intense treatment and hospitalization for 11 days. After discharge, Dominic began receiving monthly Synagis shots, and was approved for five doses of Synagis throughout the RSV season.

After the passing of Alexander, Kari and Lyle gave birth to a healthy baby boy in 2010 and Kari is currently pregnant with her fourth child. 

What do you think?

You Should Know About RSV

Tell us what you think!

2 comments

  1. Cait says:

    It’s scary how close my story is to this one. So sorry for Kari and her family. My daughter was born on January 29 a little over 3 weeks early. She was 5lbs and 9 oz and perfectly healthy. We went home 24 hours after her birth. About 5 days after going home I noticed a cough. I called the doctor and they asked if she had a fever and she didn’t. They said not to worry. Well I called every day for the next 5 days and got the same answer. On the fifth day my mother who is a nurse and has been for 25+ years held her and said that we needed to go to the ER immediately. Upon arrival her oxygen levels were extremely low and decreasing rapidly oxygen was barely helping. We were transported to St. Johns childrens hospital in Springfield IL. We were put in the NICU for the next 9 days. She was strong and we were able to move to regular room until discharge. I had no clue what RSV was or how dangerous, but I will never underestimate it again. I thought ours was an extreme case. I’m saddened to see how horribly wrong it can go.

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