TEXARKANA, Texas (KSLA) – Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is one of the most common winter time illnesses found in children. This virus impacts breathing and hits harder for those who are younger.

The parents of 2-year-old Payten say her battle with RSV was one of the scariest times of their life.

When it started, she was showing symptoms of a cold. Her father, Clayten Simpson, says Payten’s breathing dropped significantly to 50.02%. She had to have an IV and a breathing treatment before being flown to a bigger hospital. There, they say they heard the words a parent never wants to hear: “There’s nothing we can do, it’s in her hands to fight.”

“Payten’s chest was rolling like a wave. I mean, she couldn’t breathe and like even as the doctor said, at that point it’s almost too late and that’s something you never want to hear and that’s something a parent should never have to deal with,” said Simpson.

Payten’s parents say they were sick before their daughter became ill, but never knew if it was RSV because they weren’t tested.

Officials at CHRISTUS St. Michael say there are ways to prevent RSV, similar to prevention methods used with the flu and COVID-19. They recommend washing your hands and wearing a face mask.

In adults, RSV symptoms present like a cold, with fever and a cough. It can be passed from adults to children and cause reparatory distress or trouble breathing.

“I think we are also learning that adults can be impacted by RSV too. People may have wheezing, they may have coughing, they may have fevers. They go and get tested for flu and COVID, and those may be negative, but for the most part we are not testing adults for RSV. So we have the under-diagnosed RSV going on in our adult population, but we are testing children and we know that kids have it. Most likely, adults are carrying it around,” said Dr. Lauren Robinson, chief medical officer at CHRISTUS.

She says it’s important for parents to remain calm if their child contracts the virus, as the process requires a lot of IVs and breathing treatments. Even after being sent home, there may be a lingering cough. Robinson advises putting a humidifier in the bedroom and keeping them hydrated. She also advises parents to follow up with a pediatrician if the coughing lasts over three weeks.

Simpson says he hopes other parents can learn from their story. Payten is now doing better after spending two weeks at a children’s hospital in Dallas. She is said to be happy and healthy at home with her family.

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