Respiratory virus cases hitting Northeast Ohio sooner than expected


BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Hospitals in Northeast Ohio are seeing cases of a commonly known respiratory virus earlier in the year than expected.

According to Akron Children’s Hospital, respiratory syncytial virus, otherwise known as RSV, is the leading cause of hospitalizations amongst infants in the United States.

This virus typically runs its course in the later fall months and into the winter.

RSV is a highly contagious viral infection. This virus usually affects at-risk infants, children and the elderly.

It usually shows up as common cold symptoms, but can change the behavior of an infant.

Doctors say it is important to know the signs, because cases are popping up in Northeast Ohio right now.

“I think what we are seeing is a resurgence of winter viruses in the summer,” said Dr. Michael Forbes, a pediatric ICU doctor at Akron Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Forbes said he has speculations that COVID-19 has changed RSV.

He said that parts of Florida typically has this virus all year round, but Ohio doesn’t usually experience this.

“The impact of COVID-19 and masking and distancing clearly changed the epidemiology of RSV,” Dr. Forbes said.

A family from Lowellville is dealing with this virus right now.

All three of their children contracted the virus and their 3-week-old child is currently in the hospital trying to fight it off, according to mom Stephanie Hephner.

Many people don’t think that RSV is prominent in the summer, but now that’s changed.

“By the time we go to the hospital, she was extremely congested,” said Hephner. “You could tell she was having a really hard time breathing. All very scary obviously, she’s only 3 weeks old. Sorry I get emotional just because she’s so little.”

Hephner’s littlest, Lucia, has a few weeks of recovery ahead of her and doctors are saying that there shouldn’t be any long lasting side effects.

“As far as long term affects, they haven’t really mentioned anything. They did say that the next two weeks are going to be rough,” said Hephner. “Like I said, it’s gonna be a roller coaster. She’s going to have good days and bad days.”

 Dr. Forbes said the case numbers aren’t reaching concerning levels, but it is something to be aware of.

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