Northeast Georgia health departments warning communities about spread of respiratory virus

HALL COUNTY, Ga. — A growing number of young patients in northeast Georgia seem to be contracting Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, at an alarming rate.

Brandon Gibson told Channel 2′s Tom Regan that both of his kids have recovered from RSV infections. While he says his son sicker than his daughter, neither suffered too many symptoms.

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But for some young children, even as young as infants, it has been a big deal.

“There have been a number of hospitalizations that we have received reports about in young kids,” said Marie Brown with the Georgia Department of Public Health’s District 2.

Those cases prompted that health department to send out an alert to the community warning them of a growing community spread of the virus. They say community members should be on the lookout for symptoms of RSV.

“We are seeing fevers, we are seeing pneumonia, we are seeing bronchitis, chronic colds,” Brown said.

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Other healthcare providers say they are trying to figure out where the uptick in cases is coming from since this is not the normal time of year.

“We are wondering if this is a mutation, lifting of mask restrictions, where this is coming from because it’s weird this time of year,” said Dr. Toni Egolum with Pediatric Associates.

“Respiratory illnesses have their way of making through the community, and RSV decided this was the time to come though, and we are just seeing the implications of that,” said Dr. Erol Onal with Pediatric Associates.

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RSV symptoms are usually minor, like a serious cold or cough, but in rare cases, it can be deadly.

“The mortality rate for kids under five years old, is between 100 to 500 annually,” Brown said.

There is currently no vaccine for RSV, but frequent disinfection of common surfaces and covering your mouth when you cough can help reduce community spread.

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