As if the flu wasn’t enough.

An even more virulent virus, one that is highly contagious and potentially more deadly, one that strikes the most vulnerable population, is moving through the Houston community.  It’s called RSV, respiratory syncytial virus, and has sent hundreds of infants to emergency rooms and hospitals.

Dr. Amalia Guardiola, Pediatrician at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at UTHealth, says health care professionals are seeing more cases this year compared to last year.

“And they are also more aggressive, more complicated, and more of our little children are ending up in the hospital,” Dr. Guardiola tells KTRH News.  “Since October at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital we have seen more than 140 babies admitted with RSV.  And there are way more kids affected by it that have not required hospitalization.”

Dr. Guardiola says the symptoms are very much like the flu: fever, coughing, runny nose.  There is a very simple test doctors perform to determine if a young child has the flu or RSV.

She advises consulting with your pediatrician within the first 48 hours of onset in the event they have come down with RSV.

The most important thing, Dr. Guardiola stresses, is for caregivers to wash your hands frequently and give special attention to general cleanliness.  Because of the highly-contagious nature of RSV, keeping children’s toys and clothing clean and isolated from others once contaminated is critical.  Dr. Guardiola recommends keeping babies away from places with crowds when practical.

RSV is seasonal, and January is the peak.