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'You have a lot of susceptible children' | Health experts warn that RSV cases are on the rise

The DC Hospital Association says they only had three pediatric ICU beds available as of Tuesday night.

WASHINGTON — A new health concern is rising across the country. Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV.

The Mayo Clinic says most children will be infected with RSV by the age of 2.

A DC Hospital Association spokesperson told WUSA9 that D.C. hospitals are experiencing an increase in RSV hospitalizations. They say as of Oc. 18, there were three pediatric ICU beds available in the District. They also claim of the 342 inpatient pediatric beds, 321 of those beds were occupied as of Tuesday night.

According to data from the CDC, there has been a steep incline in detected cases. On Aug. 20, 1,241 cases were reported. By Oct. 8, that number had jumped to 4,424 cases.

Some of the symptoms of RSV include fever, coughing, wheezing, change or loss of appetite and fatigue.

"If they're noticing that there's sucking in in the skin between the child's ribs or underneath the ribs that's usually a sign that there's difficulty breathing," said Pediatric Infectious Diseases Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse with the Mayo Clinic. "Obviously, if your child looks blue around their mouth or lips or fingernails -- that's a really serious sign and you should seek medical care right away."

Some health experts speculate that the pandemic is partially to blame for the uptick in cases.

"Now they're all together, they've taken their masks off," said Dr. William Schaffner from Vanderbilt University. "Most of them haven't yet experienced RSV as a child. So you have a lot of susceptible children".

To reduce risk, doctors recommend you wash your hands frequently. They also recommend washing your children's toys and keeping countertops and doorknobs clean.

VERIFY: Are we seeing RSV cases on the rise?

Respiratory Syncytial Virus causes infections in the lungs and respiratory tract. And it's common in children.

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