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Hospitals for children in Colorado dealing with worsening outbreak of RSV

Hospitals for children in Colorado dealing with worsening outbreak of RSV
Hospitals for children in Colorado dealing with worsening outbreak of RSV 02:46

Colorado is dealing with a worsening outbreak of RSV, along with spikes in flu and COVID-19 cases.  

The state health department says 167 children are hospitalized with RSV. For adults, RSV will probably just look like a mild cold, but for very young children it can be extremely dangerous. 


One Longmont family shared their heart-wrenching experience with the virus. 

"It started just like a cold," says Lindsay Darnell. Her 18-month-old son, Rhonan, got sick at day care in October. 

When his apparent cold got worse, his family took him to the emergency room. Inside the ER they were told Rhonan had the RSV virus that's currently sweeping the country. 

"It's an incredible spike right now and it's across the nation," said National Jewish Health's Chair of Pediatrics Pr. Pam Zeitlin. She says every children's hospital she knows of is currently overwhelmed by RSV patients. 

"I am shocked at the number of children over the age of two who are coming into our triage unit, or are being seen at emergency rooms across the city," Zeitlin said. 

Zeitlin says RSV symptoms are like a cold, but can progress to pneumonia and can be especially serious in infants and the elderly. 

Given the current spike, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts up to 500 children will die from RSV this year.

Le Bohneur/CBS

Zeitlin recommends consulting a doctor if your child has cold symptoms and seeking emergency care if those symptoms escalate. 

"If they become very short of breath, breathe too fast, start to cough, wheeze, or grunt to breathe, then you know that they're having too much trouble and it's time to be seen," Zeitlin said. 

Those are the exact symptoms Rhonan had after his RSV diagnosis, prompting his parents to return to the ER. 

"Two days later, we went back because he was breathing weird, and his color was weird, and we found out he had also pneumonia," says Lindsay Darnell.     

Rhonan was then put on antibiotics and a BiPAP ventilator. 

"I had to try really hard not to break down in the ER," said Rhonan's dad, Michael Darnell.            

After a week in the hospital, Rhonan finally came home and since then has bounced back. 

"He's back at day care and he's playing and dancing," his mother said. 

On the other side of every parent's worst nightmare, the Darnells want other families to be prepared. 

"If you know there's something not right with your kiddo, take them in," Michael Darnell said.  

The strategies to prevent RSV are ones that many are no strangers to using to combat the spread of COVID-19. 

Health experts warn to wash your hands, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and wear a mask around others if you have symptoms. 

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