Raleigh hospitals restrict access as RSV cases pop up sooner than usual

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Two major hospital systems in the Triangle are getting ready to start restricting visitors from certain areas to protect patients from respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

WakeMed Hospital said beginning October 1, it will be restricting visitation for children younger than 12 in its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Special Care Nurseries.

Rex Hospital will also restrict visitation in the NICU to only parents and grandparents starting October 1.

The virus is cyclical and pops up every year around fall.

One doctor told ABC11 that medical professionals are seeing cases sooner than usual.

"It's a virus that typically starts out as a cold, often a very running nose, and then it tends to work its way down into the lung and that's where it becomes scarier," said Dr. Jeffrey Keil, medical director of UNC Urgent Care.

He explained that RSV can resemble the flu, but the fever doesn't get as high as with influenza. Keil said that if a child has underlying issues, the virus could increase the risk for complications such as pneumonia.

Keil said there's no immunization you can get to prevent it, the virus just has to work its way through the body and most children easily bounce back.

"There are some kids, particularly under 2, that they can get a really bad case of it, and that's where they get the wheezing and they can where there's so much mucus and junk in their chest, that it will actually cause the difficulty breathing," he said.

The CDC said each year in this country there are;

  • 2.1 million outpatient visits among children younger than 5
  • More than 57,000 children are hospitalized younger than 5
  • 14,000 deaths among adults 65 or older

Cases are not tracked locally or on a state-level.

Keil said good hygiene is the best ways to protect yourself.

"Good hand washing, and the coughing and sneezing into the elbow and those sort of things do help," Keil said.
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