RSV and Kids
Three letters – a diagnosis that builds until a baby can't breathe. In adults it's just a common cold. For babies and toddlers it can be deadly.

Deralyn Pullins' mother, an intensive care nurse, is used to sitting by a patient's bedside, not her baby daughter.

Deron Pullins, Father: "It started out coughing occasionally."

From a cough and runny nose to two weeks in the ICU on a ventilator with a collapsed lung.

Dr. Steven Lestrud, Children's Memorial Pulmonologist: "She had typical illness of fever, congestion. Increasing work of breathing, and cough and cough and cough until she developed signs of respiratory failure and had to be intubated."

Dr. Lestrud: "The lungs which are typically black is white and fluffy with fluid within the lung and congestion. Areas have collapsed up here.

The infection wreaking havoc on the 4 month old – RSV.

Dr. Lestrud: "RSV is a respiratory illness that we are all exposed to. Almost all babies are exposed to this virus and have contracted this virus by age 2."

Once a child has RSV they generally have immunity. But when they have it …

Dr. Lestrud: "There certainly is mortality with RSV. The virus attacks the lining of the lungs, and the cells fall off into the lungs and those areas are very small little tubes and that debris plugs up all those tubes and the more plugged up they get they can't get air in."

A flu shot won't prevent it, and since it's a virus, antibiotics won't work to treat it. The body just has to heal with the help of oxygen and IV fluids. Better now, Deralyn's little chest still moves rapidly as she struggles to breathe as the last of the fluid in her lungs disappears.

Dr. Lestrud: "Much less congestion and fluid."

Right now there are three babies with RSV at Children's Memorial. And as Deralyn's father breathes a sigh of relief his baby is getting better, he has some advice for other parents.

Deron Pullins: "My advice to other parents would be to watch their children, pay attention to them. The cough is really obvious and distinguishable and it really sounds horrible."

They have that distinctive cough, the sound and the struggle to get air, should send you right to the emergency room!

RSV strikes seasonally from November through March. Hand washing is the best way to prevent it since a simple cold for an adult can spiral into RSV for babies.