Virus on the rise; CDC warns of staged symptoms

Submitted photoJust a few weeks ago, 16-month-old Beckett Hymas from Conway came down with a sudden case of RSV. What started as a small cough soon required an ambulance ride to the hospital. Beckett, the son of Damon and Kerry Hymas, is doing well now though after receiving care at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. 

Around 57,000 children younger than 5 years old are hospitalized each year after contracting the RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) Infection. 

RSV is a common but highly contagious virus that infects the respiratory tract. For most, the infection causes nothing more than a cold, but for others, symptoms can be so severe a hospital trip is necessary. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms include a runny nose, decrease in appetite, coughing, sneezing, fever and wheezing, but most appear in stages and not all at once. 

That’s how it happened for 16-month-old Beckett Hymes. His mom, Kerry, said she dropped him off at daycare one morning with nothing more than a dry cough, which he’s had a lot this cold season. 

“I got a call from daycare around 2:45 p.m. saying that Beckett woke up from a nap with a high fever,” she said. “I assumed it was something small, maybe teething or a quick cold.” 

When she picked him up though, Kerry said she knew within two minutes of seeing her son that something was wrong. 

“His breathing was off,” she said. “He was different.” 

After a trip to the pediatrician, and a swab test, a positive result came back for the infection. Beckett had RSV. 

“I was in shock because he was perfectly fine that morning,” Kerry said. “Within minutes the doctor came in to monitor his breathing and we noticed retractions while he was breathing.

“She called for a second opinion and the other doctor agreed that he needed oxygen immediately. Ten minutes later, the ambulance arrived to take us to [Arkansas Children’s Hospital].”

As a mom, not only was she stunned with everything going on, she was also upset that her son was in pain and struggling to breathe as well as how fast the situation had progressed. 

“Within an hour I went from thinking my baby had a cold/teething, to being in an ambulance going to [Arkansas] Children’s Hospital,” Kerry said. “When we arrived, we were moved to a room and Beckett was put on oxygen. He was there for three days and two nights.”

She said the hospital staff was amazing.

“They said that there were so many kids there with the same illness,” Kerry said. “Beckett was definitely not feeling well but we loved that he still laughed and played even while being bound by cords. His father and I felt absolutely helpless and hated to watch him struggle, but we are praising God for healing and for the amazing nurses and doctors.”

Weeks later, Beckett is feeling much better and was able to celebrate the holidays with his family.

For other families like Conway’s Aaron and Laura Carter, their interactions with the virus weren’t so severe. 

Their 1-year-old son Krew came down with the infection just a week ago, starting with a little cough and runny nose. 

“It was the typical cold symptoms so I planned on letting it run its course,” Laura said. 

Just three days later, though, Krew’s cough had a thicker development and a fever. 

“Something felt off,” she said. “We kept an eye on his breathing and the way his lungs moved and [then] decided to take him to an urgent care.” 

Same as Beckett, a swab test came back positive for RSV. 

“Those are scary words for a first-time mama to hear,” Laura said.

She said they were blessed though because Krew didn’t need any further treatment.

“We just watched him and kept him as hydrated as possible,” Laura said. “RSV can present itself differently in each little one so trust your mama instincts.”

The CDC offers some advice for parents to help prevent the contagious disease: 

n Wash hands often 

n Keep hands off the face 

n Avoid close contact with sick people

n Cover coughs, sneezes 

n Clean and disinfect surfaces 

n Stay home when sick 

While there is no vaccine for RSV, CDC officials said scientists are working to develop one. 

Staff writer Hilary Andrews can be reached at handrews@thecabin.net.

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