Walpole mom opens up about son’s RSV battle

WALPOLE, Mass. — As Boston 25 News has been reporting this week, RSV cases have exploded over the last few months.

The head of the Pediatric Hospital Program at UMass Memorial Medical Center says it is the worst spike in RSV cases he’s seen in more than two decades.

Boston 25 News Anchor Heather Hegedus spoke with the Kaye family in Walpole. Jax Kaye from Walpole is now a healthy toddler, but when he was 10 weeks old, he came down with a fever of 104. So his mom, Ericka, took him to the pediatrician.

“And she was like, ‘This is not good. I think you need to go to Newton-Wellesley to be admitted, and they need to monitor him overnight,’ so then I was freaking out... and I was like ‘Can I go home and pack a bag?’ and she was like ‘I’d go straight from here,’” Ericka Kaye recalled.

Jax was diagnosed with RSV. It’s a virus that is most dangerous for infants, and especially preemies.

RSV is known to spread around day cares, but Jax was not in day care. His mom thinks he might have gotten it from allowing relatives to hold and kiss Jax.

“So they gave him an IV they took some blood levels and then they just monitored him for about 24 hours. It was just really terrifying. I was so scared,” said Kaye.

There is no treatment for RSV -- just supportive care, explained Dr. Timothy Gibson, the Director of the Pediatric Hospital program at UMass Memorial Medical Center.

He said his hospital began seeing an unusual spike in RSV cases this summer -- a time of year when RSV is typically unheard of.

This after, RSV cases were down last winter with everyone wearing masks to prevent COVID.

When the masks came off in the spring, RSV took off.

“I’ve been through 20 years of RSV/bronchiolitis seasons now, this is one of the worst we’ve ever seen as far as how sick the patients are, and how long they stay in the hospital,” said Dr. Gibson

So what’s the best way to protect your baby? Dr. Gibson thinks masks help.

“The strongest evidence that there could ever be is the fact that there was no RSV season last year,” said Dr. Gibson.

Doctors also use the tagline “Don’t Kiss The Baby,” when talking to parents with infants, urging them to not let even relatives kiss a newborn when RSV rates are high.

As for Jax, after about 24 hours he was discharged.

But Ericka Kaye has a message to other moms:

“Just to be aware who you’re bringing your baby around when they’re so little,” said Kaye.

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