CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus, has been increasing in the Northeast since early September.

John O’Reilly, Chief of General Pediatrics at Baystate Health, has some insight about why New Englanders are seeing so many cases of RSV this early in the season.

“We’ve had a couple of years of kids not being exposed at all. So suddenly, instead of just the kids under two getting it, kids two, three, four are all getting it for the first time,” O’Reilly explained.

Cases of RSV are increasing in number throughout western Massachusetts, causing emergency rooms to fill up. Doctors speculate that one of the reasons for the bump in cases is many pandemic-related protocols, like masks and social distancing, have been dropped.

Most children over two experience RSV as a common cold. RSV does not pose a risk for healthy adults, who will likely not even be aware they are carriers. But what’s an annoying cold for a healthy adult could pose a serious risk for an infants or elderly adults in the same household.

“It’s those adults that aren’t really aware of how their minor cold can be a significant illness either for the smallest of us and the oldest of us,” O’Reilly said.

The best way to protect yourself is by coughing into your elbow, washing your hands and wiping down surfaces. Longmeadow resident Steven Chandler just had an RSV like virus run though his household. He shares words of advice for other parents out there.

“My kids did well, but i think that if you rest and get plenty of fluids and take some time to recover, it’s the best way to address it,” said Chandler.

The best course of action with a child infected with RSV is to stay in touch with the child’s pediatrician.