Local lawmaker raises awareness about virus that sent 2-week-old daughter to hospital

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) - State Rep. Mickey Dollens (D-93) is trying to raise awareness after his 2-week-old baby was diagnosed with an illness he'd never heard of.

Baby Elvy is struggling with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). According to the CDC, almost all children will be infected with RSV by their second birthday.

It's basically the common cold, but because babies don't have built up immune systems, it can often land them in the hospital.

"I know we'll get through this, but it's just really hard to see your child suffer like this," Dollens said.

He says it was just a few days ago when he noticed Elvy had a hard time breathing and a runny nose. Things escalated after taking her to the clinic which led to an ambulance ride to the hospital.

"It was a hard sight to see, your little girl being transported to the hospital in an ambulance, but at the same time I was thankful she was in the hands of professionals who would get her to the hospital sooner than we could," Dollens said.

There is no medication to treat RSV. Elvy is in the ICU on supplemental oxygen, and doctors have to extract mucus. She still has a fever, and without help breathing, her oxygen levels are nowhere near normal.

"It is a high cause of hospitalizations in babies and can lead to death if it is not treated appropriately," Dr. Melinda Cail with Primary Health Partners said. "If you look at their chest muscles and they retract or they suck in when they're breathing, they're working too hard to breathe."

Parents can take steps to prevent RSV by keeping babies away from germs. Take the precautions you would for the common cold or seasonal flu.

"Sometimes people are carrying things right now and haven't even gotten sick, and that can just be so devastating to a little baby who doesn't have a very good immune system," Dr. Cail said.

However, it's impossible to completely prevent it.

"We took every precaution you could imagine as parents. We got the whooping cough vaccines, the flu shots. We limited visitors to the hospital only to immediate family," Dollens said.

According to Dr. Cail, most babies are discharged from the hospital after receiving supportive care.

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