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A MUM has warned parents to be vigilant after a Covid-like virus left her baby son fighting for his life.
Chloé Siler's three-month-old son Marcelo Pitt had a small cough, but she thought it was due to him sleeping with the air conditioning on.
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However when she noticed he was drowsy she rushed him to Toowoomba Hospital in Queensland, Australia.
Little Marcelo was diagnosed with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) – which is currently plaguing infants and children across Australia – as well as bronchitis.
It is feared that safety guidelines used throughout the coronavirus pandemic, such as social distancing, have diminished the collective immunity from the virus, resulting in a huge spike in cases.
Chloé told Daily Mail Australia: "I was really hoping he wasn't going to end up in hospital but he did unfortunately.
"He then got worse very quickly. His eyes went puffy from being so over tired, started wheezing when breathing, runny nose and blocked nose, constant crying and being unsettled.
"He was in hospital for two nights and three days."
The baby caught the bug from his big brother who got sick at daycare.
Similarly to coronavirus, RSV mimics the symptoms of a cold and the majority of children who catch it are only mildly affected.
But in some youngsters it can be deadly.
Marcelo was suffering from severe dehydration and had to have tubes inserted into his nose.
His mum warned other parents to be vigilant and keep an eye on their kids for any symptoms – describing the bug as a "plague".
Vanessa and Mark Richards's son Emmett also contracted RSV.
The toddler was rushed to the emergency department where he was initially presumed to be suffering from asthma and later pneumonia, in early March.
The terrified family, of Warwick, Queensland, were sent home twice, before returning when Emmett's condition rapidly deteriorated.
He struggled to breathe and became "like jelly in my arms," Vanessa recalled.
Upon his third trip to the local hospital, the infant was tested for coronavirus and other respiratory illnesses, before he was diagnosed with RSV.
Emmett soon "became too unwell for their capacity" at Warwick Hospital and was later airlifted by RACQ Lifeflight to specialist medics in Toowoomba.
Vanessa explained: "They took one look at him and put him in the resuscitation bay and he went downhill quite quickly then.
"By the time he was transferred in the chopper he was on a ventilator.
"We were met on the ground by paramedics and then a specialist doctor in the ambulance into St Vincent's.
"That Lifeflight team were critical to him surviving," she said.
The petrified parents heartbreakingly admitted they took lots of photographs of their two-year-old in the hospitals "in case they were the last pictures we had of him".
The tot was transported to the private hospital where he was given intense respiratory support, and treated with high-flow oxygen.
After a worrying wait for the Richards, Emmet gradually began to improve after three days.
"The pediatrician at the hospital said this is a particularly bad strain of RSV and they had seen a fair few other children with it as well," the mother continued.
"If we knew there were sick kids around him (in Warwick) we would have made some different decisions around childcare and work to limit his exposure, but we didn't know this virus was on the rise at the moment.
"We went through five years of IVF to have him so we're just so grateful he's now doing ok," Vanessa said. "If we had have known RSV was so severe and on the rise, we would've made different decisions."
South-east Queensland closely follows Victoria in recording a huge explosion of cases of RSV in infants and children.
The Queensland Children's Hospital reported a 55 per cent rise in respiratory illnesses, including RSV, as well as a 45 per cent rise in January.
The virus, most common in the winter months, can also affect adults and causes typical cold and covid-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, cough, fever, and sore throat.
Of the 563 patients admitted to Queensland hospitals suffering from RSV between November 2020 and January 2021, 510 people were under the age of 18.
That's double the number of young people with the virus since this time last year – making some medical experts believe social distancing efforts have increased the spread and severity of the virus.
Infectious diseases expert Dr. Hannah Moore told the ABC: "We've now got a larger population that has been immune to RSV, that haven't seen RSV before – so the general population's immunity level is quite low."
What is respiratory syncytial virus?
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common, and very contagious, virus that infects the respiratory tract of most children before their second birthday.
For most babies and young children, the infection causes nothing more than a cold.
But for a small percentage, infection with RSV can lead to serious problems such as bronchiolitis, which is inflammation of the small airways of the lungs, or pneumonia, which can become life-threatening.
RSV infection can cause cold-like symptoms, including cough and runny nose, which usually last for one to two weeks.
Call your baby's doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Trouble breathing
- Cough producing yellow, green, or gray mucus
- Unusually upset or inactive
- Refuses to breastfeed or bottle-feed
- Signs of dehydration – lack of tears when crying, little or no urine in the diaper for 6 hours, and cool, dry skin.
If your baby is very tired, breathes rapidly, or has a blue tint to the lips or fingernails, get medical attention immediately.
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