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Some Hospitals Turning Away Babies With Potentially Deadly Infection

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Miriam Cavender with her baby, Sylvia (credit: CBS)

Miriam Cavender with her baby, Sylvia (credit: CBS)

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DENVER (CBS4) – A potentially deadly infection that makes it hard for babies to breathe is keeping doctors incredibly busy. Pediatric units at some hospitals are overflowing, with one specialist calling it the worst season for the virus she’s ever seen.

Miriam Cavender tapped her baby’s chest to break up her congestion, helping little Sylvia breathe easier. At just seven weeks old, the newborn has spent 17 days in pediatric intensive care.

“She had a really goopy nose, she was coughing, wheezing, and she actually was even gagging a lot,” Cavender said.

Her parents thought Sylvia had a cold like the rest of the family, but when they went to an emergency room the doctor told them it was something worse.

“They told me that she had RSV and influenza A,” Cavender said.

Sylvia was admitted to the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children where she joined a packed house of babies with respiratory illnesses, especially RSV.

“I had no idea what RSV was, so I was really confused and realized that all of a sudden things were getting really serious,” Cavender said.

RSV is “respiratory syncytial virus,” a virus that infects all ages, but is especially serious in tiny babies.

“A big problem is apnea, or babies that just quit breathing,” Dr. Tracy Butler said.

Butler says Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children has been filled with young RSV patients. They’ve even had to turn some away.

“This seems like it’s the worst year that I’ve seen in the 15 years that I’ve been practicing medicine,” Butler said.

For Cavender, it’s been terrifying.

“It’s been really hard knowing that there were times that she was possibly going to die,” she said.

Sylvia is now off a ventilator, but still hooked to oxygen and a feeding tube. Her mother worries she’s not out of the woods yet, but Cavender is thankful for the progress.

There is no vaccine to prevent RSV. The best advice is to keep babies and young children away from sick people and crowds. Also, practice frequent handwashing, and when noticing cold symptoms, call the doctor.

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