Karl Stefanovic has shed more light on the medical emergency that saw his youngest daughter, Harper, rushed to hospital last year with breathing difficulties.

The Today show host and his wife, Jasmine, feared for little Harper when she struggled to breathe at the time. Upon admission, the worried parents were told Harper, now three, was suffering from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

“Almost a year ago, my daughter Harper scared the living daylights out of us. Struggling to breathe, we rushed her to GP. Then to hospital. There, we discovered the scary combination of letters we never heard of before, RSV. It’s a respiratory infection,” Karl said this morning on the breakfast program, while discussing RSV with Dr Matthew O’Meara, the chief paediatrician at Sydney Children’s Hospital.

“She was in a lot of pain. Luckily, she’s able to make a full recovery. In the last 12 months more than 27,000 Aussie children have suffered from RSV. It happened to us and it could happen to any parent.”

Karl said the hard part about the entire ordeal was seeing Harper’s health rapidly deteriorate.

“The one hard thing for us was how quickly Harper went downhill,” he recalled. “It felt like a normal cold and flu. She went downhill. The breathing became laboured and it got worse in a very quick amount of time.”

Both Karl and Jasmine now want to hero RSV Awareness Week, which kicked off yesterday and runs until June 10.

“The first time Karl and I heard the letters RSV was when Harper was in hospital struggling to breathe,” Jasmine recalled last week of the terrifying moment. “Initially, Harper had the sniffles and a cough, and we assumed she just had a bit of a cold. But within hours, she deteriorated; it was alarming to see how hard she was working to breathe, with her little ribs sucking in and tummy pulling up into her chest.”

While the couple say Harper is on the mend, they still proceed with caution given she still has a “lingering wheeze”.

“It’s been almost a year since our awful experience with RSV, and Harper still has a lingering wheeze. Doctors have explained that RSV can have a range of long-term health effects. We’ll be keeping a close eye on her this winter,” Jasmine added.

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