SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Although cold and flu season doesn’t usually start until December, hospitals across the state and here locally are experiencing an influx of pediatric patients suffering from RSV.

RSV, which is short for respiratory syncytial virus, is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild cold-like symptoms. However, RSV can be serious in infants and older adults and emergency rooms are filling up with pediatric patients who are suffering from this condition.

“We’re seeing a significant rise in RSV, especially within the pediatric population. Very sick children that have been coming in with shortness of breath, and oxygen saturations tend to be low at times and require a lot of children to be hospitalized right now. It is becoming a concern not only across the state but even outside New England there are not many beds available for sick children right now,” said Mark Kenton, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Mercy Medical Center.

Dr. Kenton says ways to protect your child include handwashing, and staying away from people who may be sick. Because emergency rooms are filling up, Dr. Kenton suggests staying in contact with your pediatrician about your child’s health, noting when it’s time to bring your child to the emergency room if you see them struggling or using their chest muscles to breathe.