AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Cases of a common and very infectious respiratory virus are on the rise. And doctors want you to protect yourself and others in the coming months. 

RSV is a virus that causes cold-like symptoms in people and can be life-threatening to young children. Alex Martin’s son had RSV at 11 months old.

“It is literally the most terrifying thing…just watching your little one struggle to breathe,” she said.

Martin’s son spent his first Thanksgiving in the NICU.

Dr. Ingrid Camelo is a pediatric infectious disease physician at MCG and Children’s Hospital of Georgia. She says that RSV can cause severe pneumonia in premature babies and children less than a year old.

“The problem with RSV is that it affects the upper and lower airways,” said Dr. Camelo. And it can be very aggressive, especially in premature babies. We have a lot of that here in  the hospital.”

Dr. Camelo encourages no smoking around premature babies and breast-feeding to keep children healthy and hydrated.

Miriam Hunter’s child had RSV two years ago. She said she found great support in her pediatrician and, most importantly, she grew more confident in her ability to get through illnesses in her family.

“I have a specific memory of being very, very pregnant with my third and my second child, like, sucking on the edge of the stool at the doctor’s office and I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I can’t do anything!’,” said Hunter. “So, my mindset is I’m gonna do the best that I can, we’re gonna wash our hands as often as we can…”

The number of RSV cases is already very high for the month of October. Dr. Camelo says that this will be a long season of high cases of both RSV and the flu, which are the leading infections in children right now. 

“Influenza and RSV season is going to be pretty hard,” Dr. Camelo said. “So, we will have to be prepared for that. And as much as we can avoid transmission, especially to younger children, the best.”

Doctors strongly encourage you to wash your hands often and avoid being around others, especially young children, if you are experiencing symptoms.