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Mother warns of rising RSV after baby airlifted to Birmingham hospital

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) – Cases of RSV are rising across the country, and a northern Alabama mother wants to warn parents of rapidly increasing hospitals across the state after her daughter came down with the virus.

Amelia, a year-old from Clarissa Wing, caught RSV in October, and at first Clarissa and her husband thought her cough and runny nose just signaled a cold. They did not expect that in less than a week she would be hospitalized in the emergency room and then flown to Birmingham.

“We just noticed she was coughing so hard. Between her coughs, it was as if she was trying to catch her breath. So we called the doctor right away, and he said to go ahead and get to the ER,” Wing said.

For teens and adults, RSV can be easy to clear, but that’s not the case for young children. For them, that can mean a trip to the hospital, like in Amelia’s case, or worse.

In the emergency room, doctors diagnosed Amelia with RSV, which had already progressed to double pneumonia. However, Wing said they could not treat her in Huntsville because their pediatric intensive care unit was full. They were forced to airlift Amelia to Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham.

“[I was] in tears – she’s my little baby, and I just have to watch her fly off in the helicopter and then come down as fast as I can,” Wing said.

Amelia was given oxygen and antibiotics, and after a day she was discharged and able to go home. It was a big relief for Wing, who was particularly concerned about complications since Amelia was born 12 weeks premature, along with her two identical sisters.

“We supported our triplets for nearly 90 days in NICU [after they were born] … I can’t imagine staying by her side this long, seeing her overcome everything being born so early, and now going through this,” Wing said.

Amelia’s two sisters also caught the virus but had only minor symptoms. Now they are all healthy and back to normal although Amelia still has to use an inhaler for a persistent cough.

With winter approaching, Wing stressed how important it is to watch out for germs around children.

“Everyone loves little kids and babies, and sometimes they want to come over and say hello and get really close. Just be aware and courteous of that, that it might not be the best time right now with RSV, the flu, and all kinds of things going on,” Wing said.

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