Lebanon, NH – Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common virus affecting the respiratory tract and lungs that is seen in high volumes most winters. While RSV is a common virus, many hospitals and emergency rooms across the country are experiencing a much higher number of children who need special care.
“Dartmouth Health Children’s is leading efforts to ensure that community hospitals in New Hampshire and Vermont feel prepared to meet the needs of our local patients,” said Keith J. Loud, MD, physician-in-chief at Dartmouth Health Children’s. “We offer educational sessions to centers that care for children and focus on advice for some of the worst conditions they see. In addition to the education, we include lists of special equipment needs to help patients, so that it is available when needed. We work closely every day with other hospitals that care for children to care for patients closest to home in a hospital that provides the right level of care.
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The virus causes mild illness in most children and adults, causing cold-like symptoms and possibly wheezing and coughing. In children aged 0 to 5 years, mucus production for the virus can clog the lower airways and cause some breathing difficulties such as rapid breathing, difficulty breathing or easily tired. If this is the case, parents and caregivers should contact their pediatrician for advice. In the case of a clear emergency, children should be taken to the nearest ER.
Treatment of the worst cases of RSV may require patients to receive some oxygen support, fluid injected into a vein to prevent or treat dehydration, and monitoring so doctors can tell if a patient is improving or needs more care.
“Dartmouth Health Children’s has expanded our ability to see sick patients by opening additional clinic appointments and creating new inpatient rooms at Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon to accommodate the sickest children who need hospital care,” continued Loud.
What can parents and caregivers do to keep children healthy?
To support efforts to keep children healthy, Dartmouth Health Children’s is asking everyone to do the following to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses:
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Avoid in people who are sick.
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs.
- It is recommended that children over 6 months are fully vaccinated against influenza and COVID-19.