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Peak of contagious virus season coming to an end


Doctors say between July and March, it's respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) season in Florida. The peak being between November and February.

In many parts of the country, they are seeing more cases than normal. What is it? And who is most susceptible?

You can ask any parent about how it feels to have a sick baby. It is simply awful.

When Madeline Malone was just three months old she developed a strong cough and had trouble breathing.

Her mom, Annie Malone, said, "It was really scary. It was just the way they breathe is scary sounding."

She took Madeline to the pediatrician and found out she had RSV.

"As a parent it's so scary, especially if they are sleeping in a room next door and you are worried about them breathing," Annie explained.

She said it felt like it would last forever, but it finally went away. However, Madeline got it again when she was 15 months old.

Dr. Florentina Litra is a hospitalist at The Studer Family Children's Hospital at Sacred Heart. She said RSV is common, incredibly contagious and can make babies very sick.

"In Florida we have a very long season, July through February. While the rest of the nation is October through February or March," she said.

She said in most cases the symptoms are similar to a common cold and a child's immune system fights it and it's gone in about 10 days. However roughly 600 children a year are seen at the Studer Family Children's Hospital due to the condition causing dehydration or respiratory failure.

Dr. Litra said some babies are more susceptible to having severe problems.

"Premature infants, children under two years of age that have congenital heart problems or other immune deficiencies or neurological defects."

She added, "The worst cases are the ones that end up in ICU. The ones that have respiratory failure. They stop breathing and turn blue and have to be ventilated."

So what do you do? Doctors recommend to keep it from spreading, wash your hands often. If your child gets it, Dr. Litra recommends good old TLC. That means lots of sleep, fluids, and keep their airways clear.