By Kathy Walsh

DENVER (CBS4) – Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children (RMHC) is crowded with infants suffering from a respiratory virus called RSV, respiratory syncytial virus. Doctors want to get the word out that it is spreading and could be serious, even deadly, for some infants.

CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh visited RMHC where half of the babies in the pediatric intensive care unit are struggling with RSV.

“It’s really tough,” said an emotional Eric Jaquez talking about his sick baby boy.

Eric Jaquez with his sick son, Julian (credit: CBS)

Eric Jaquez with his sick son, Julian (credit: CBS)

“I like to think that I can fix most things, but not being able to fix my son,” Jaquez said as he choked back tears.

Two-month-old Julian is in intensive care at RMHC. He had cold symptoms Tuesday that kept getting worse.

“You could tell by his breathing he was really struggling, digging deep, congestion, mucus sound, the wheezing,” said Jaquez.

Julian’s parents took him to urgent care Saturday and then emergency.

“The lungs are supposed to be black, they’re supposed to be full of air,” explained Dr. Tracy Butler, Medical Director of the Pediatric ICU at RMHC.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

But X-rays show Julian has collapsed airways. Butler diagnosed him with RSV that typically circulates once a year.

“Usually it’s in the winter months right after that first cold snap hits,” said Butler.

Anyone can get it, but it hits babies under 10 weeks and young children with weakened immune systems hard.

Jaquez never heard about RSV until Julian got sick. Now, he’s become an expert.

“As an adult, we get a form of it as a sinus infection with our mucus, but with them it’s a lot more complicated because their airways and their lungs are so much smaller,” said Jaquez.

Eric Jaquez with his sick son, Julian (credit: CBS)

Eric Jaquez with his sick son, Julian (credit: CBS)

Half of the babies in intensive care at RMHC have RSV and some are much sicker than Julian. The virus is extremely contagious and you can get it again and again.

“It can live on surfaces for up to six hours, so really cleaning and keeping your children away from other sick adults and or kids is half the battle,” said Butler.

The advice from worried dad Jaquez is, “(Use) precaution. Take them in, get them checked out because it never hurts.”

Doctors aren’t sure why, but RSV trends every other year. Butler said this is the year for higher incidence of the virus and this is just the beginning.

LINK: Respiratory Syncytial Virus | CDC

Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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