Knoxville family stresses ‘Don’t kiss baby’ during flu season after daughter is hospitalized with RSV


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – What may be just a common cold to you, can literally take a baby’s breath away. We’re talking about a contagious lung infection called Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV.

The CDC estimates 57,000 children are hospitalized because of an RSV infection every year in the U.S.

Doctors in East Tennessee recently warning all of us to take precautions ahead of the holiday season because RSV can be dangerous, even deadly, for infants, young babies and children with weakened immune systems.

  • Wash your hands often
  • Do not touch your eyes, mouth or nose with unwashed hands
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Clean and disinfect your home
  • Stay home if you’re sick

More: East TN doctors stress protecting babies from RSV infection during holidays

East Tennessee Children’s Hospital tells us for the first week in December, they treated 53 cases of RSV and so far this year 222 cases of RSV.

“Don’t kiss baby”

Happy and bouncy, 7-month-old Emma James is feeling better everyday.

“She’s made a complete recovery other than the last couple days of an ear infection,” said her mom, Meagen Mace.

About two weeks ago, Mace thought Emma just had a cold but as she started feeling worse and refusing food, they decided it was time to go to an urgent care, “Where they swabbed her nose and she was diagnosed with RSV.”

Mace says it was a worrisome diagnosis.

“Just watching her breathing, watching her breathing at night was huge. We lost a lot of sleep over that time because you worry about them, you worry about them very much,” she said.

Emma’s parents say her symptoms only worsened so they brought her to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

“It was very scary but at that point I knew that was where she needed to be,” added Mace.

She says doctors diagnosed Emma with pneumonia, bronchitis and an ear infection — all complications from RSV.

“We’re very very thankful that she was able to get the help that she needed and she made a very quick recovery but especially with her being so young ad not being able to vocalize what she was feeling was huge,” said Mace.

Emma was only hospitalized for two days and while she’s feeling better.

Mace hopes the community works on taking care of little ones in their life, “Especially during cold and flu season. Just being an advocate for her around other people that I think are sick and just saying, ‘This is what I think is best for her. Maybe don’t hold her, don’t kiss her or kiss her hands.’ There are other ways that you can bond but not in a way that could harm Emma’s health.”


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