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Oklahoma mother raises awareness about RSV

After her infant daughter developed RSV, Mikala Watkins, of Oklahoma, made it a point to start educating parents about respiratory syncytial virus, more commonly known as RSV.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: January 15, 2013 at 9:44 pm •  Published: January 15, 2013

Mikala Watkins has yet to bring her infant daughter home.

Shortly after Sophie was born, she developed respiratory syncytial virus, more commonly known as RSV.

RSV is a common respiratory illness that can develop into a more serious illness in young babies.

After seeing Sophie suffer from RSV, Watkins is on a mission to educate parents about how to spot it in their children.

“Say I was a new mom, and I didn't know anything about it, and I would just think, ‘Oh, she has a stuffy nose, she will get rid of it,'” Watkins said. “You could lose your child over this.”

The virus leads to mild, cold-like symptoms in adults and older healthy children, according to the National Institutes of Health. It can be more serious in young babies, especially those in certain high-risk groups, according to the agency.

Infections often occur in epidemics that last from late fall through early spring, according to OU Medical Center. In Oklahoma, January to February is the heart of RSV season, according to the center.

Since September, OU Medical Center has seen about 440 cases. Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City, which doesn't see a lot of pediatric cases, has seen seven cases of RSV since August 2012. None of the patients were admitted to the hospital.

Integris has seen about 130 cases since July, which is a little higher than normal but not an alarming rate, a hospital spokesman said. Of the 110 patients tested for RSV at St. Anthony Hospital, 23 tested positive.

An ongoing ordeal

Sophie Watkins was born Dec. 20. It was about Christmas, and Mikala Watkins was staying with family for the holiday.

Watkins said her daughter seemed like she had a cold, but it soon got worse. On New Year's Eve, she took her to the emergency room. Within minutes, the staff decided to admit Sophie, and she was in the hospital for about 13 days.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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