SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – An early surge of RSV cases among kids is concerning health experts.

Communities across the country and here in western Massachusetts are seeing enormous spikes in respiratory illnesses among children. 22News spoke with Dr. John O’Reilly, the Chief of General Pediatrics at Baystate Medical Center who says the hospitals are inundated with calls from concerned parents over kids that are wheezing and coughing.

“That’s reflected in the hospital, over half of our kids in the ICU at this point have some version of bronchiolitis and RSV.”

RSV causes cold-like symptoms and can be especially dangerous for babies and toddlers. This age group has smaller airways that can become blocked with mucus and ultimately impact a child’s ability to breathe.

Dr. O’Reilly says parents should not panic if their child begins showing mild symptoms. “A lot of kids have a lot of other reasons besides RSV to have a runny nose. It’s that day 3, 4, or 5 when they go from a runny nose to working hard to breathe and you know something is different. They seem sicker, they’re feeding less, and they’re breathing harder. That’s the time to call your pediatrician.”

Giggle Gardens in Springfield told 22News, that only four kids out of the more than 200 they serve have tested positive for RSV, but other kids are showing symptoms of respiratory illnesses.

“We definitely have children that aren’t feeling good. The winter is coming, stuffy noses, stuff like that. We clean and disinfect the classrooms and we also fog it at night.” Kelly Trudeau, Director at Giggle Gardens

Health experts say traces of RSV last longer on surfaces than other viruses, like COVID-19. Adults with cold-like symptoms should be careful around small children and disinfect high-traffic areas, a virus that seems mild to adults could become severe for a child.