Oklahoma hospitals overflowing with babies dealing with RSV

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Hospitals across the state said they are working to heal infants dealing with a dangerous virus.

Recently, hospitals said they have seen an increase in children fighting Respiratory Syncytial Virus.

Children are being admitted to ICU, and some are even being flown out-of-state.

The virus impacts their lungs and can be life threatening to those under the age of 2.

Doctors at OU Children's Hospital tell us the majority of the children in the pediatric intensive care unit right now are dealing with this virus or similar illnesses.

Linzi Stewart-Crawford is at Children’s with her daughter after 7-week-old Vale was diagnosed with RSV earlier this week.

Stewart-Crawford and her husband rushed Vale to the hospital Wednesday.

“By the time we got there, she was white as the blanket she was wrapped up in. Her oxygen saturation was in the 50s,” she said.

Vale is now hospitalized and on oxygen.

“She was refusing to eat and not having wet diapers,” Stewart-Crawford said. “It just progressed. Just within 24 hours, it had progressed so bad. It was awful.”

“It's almost overwhelming," said Dr. Morris Gessouroun, the medical director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital. "The single greatest percentage of patients in the entire hospital have bronchiolitis.”

Bronchiolitis is connected to RSV.

“Those airways are really tiny. It tends to block them off, and also small babies have a lot of trouble effectively coughing and clearing those secretions,” Gessouroun said.

Gessouroun said anyone can get the virus.

It acts like the common cold in adults and older children but, in a child under 2 years old, it can be a life threatening infection.

“The biggest thing to do is watch for severity of symptoms and seek medical attention if they are severe enough,” he said.

The symptoms include difficulty breathing, not eating or drinking, fever and changes in skin color.

“It is all the way from a mild disease that gives you a runny nose and cough and fever and a little bit of difficulty breathing to one where it is potentially life threatening,”Gessouroun said.

In January, there were 144 cases of RSV at Children's Hospital.

Integris Baptist Medical Center tells us they too are seeing a lot of cases - about one and a half times more than this time last year.

Integris officials said they had 120 cases in January and have had close to 90 cases this month.

After 24 hours in the hospital, Vale is making good progress, which is a relief to her parents.

“It’s just torture to watch them when they're struggling for each breath they take and there's nothing you can do about it,” Stewart-Crawford said.

Doctors said there's actually no cure for RSV.

They just give the patients oxygen, fluids and treat any symptoms.

They said it’s easily spread this time of year because people are spending more time inside so the germs spread more easily.

Gessouroun said hand-washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the virus.