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RSV cases rising in Tampa Bay, doctors warn families of effect to young children

By: Larissa Scott Posted at 7:16 AM, Jun 29, 2021 and last updated 1:12 PM, Jun 29, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — Local doctors have a new concern for children.

“It’s an infection that is not fun to have,” said Dr. Claudia Espinosa, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Infections Disease at the University of South Florida

Doctors say Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, cases have been skyrocketing.

“The CDC is concerned about that because the numbers are not going down and we are concerned in our community because we have seen sick kids due to that virus,” said Espinosa.

RSV mostly affects young children and can be severe.


It impacts the respiratory system and is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children less than a year old.

According to the CDC, infants, young children, and older adults with chronic medical conditions are at risk for severe infection.

Symptoms include:

  • irritability
  • fatigue
  • lethargy
  • loss of appetite
  • fever
  • cough
  • sneezing
  • headache
  • wheezing

“One of the things that it does is it can cause an asthma-like situation, a bronchitis, where there is spasming of the airways which can cause a wheeze and of course if significant enough can start to have airway blockage,” said Dr. David Berger, Board Certified Pediatrician at Wholistic Family Care.

The CDC recently issues an alert for RSV to warn doctors about the virus rapidly spreading in southern states like Florida.

Experts say it’s unusual to see cases this time of year, they typically see infections during the winter season but they didn’t see many last year.

Some doctors believe with COVID-19 restrictions lifting, the virus is now able to spread again.

Medications and treatment can be tricky.

“We don’t have a vaccine for that. We don’t have treatment for the infection yet and so there are all these kids… and there is nothing to protect them against this virus, and it’s just circulating wildly,” said Espinosa.

Doctors recommend using extreme caution right now when taking young children under 2, especially infants less than 6 months old, and pre-term babies, outside of your bubble.