A common contagious virus that affects children under 1-years-old is believed to be striking early this year.

WSB-TV reports that Catawba Valley Medical Center in Hickory, North Carolina has already admitted babies to the neonatal intensive care unit as a result of having a virus known as, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

According to the Mayo Clinic, the virus affects respiratory systems such as the lungs and can lead to even more serious health issues for young children.

According to the doctors at Catawba Valley Medical Center, the hospital doesn’t usually have patients with the virus until after Thanksgiving.

One of those unsuspecting mothers, Abigail Hoyle, said it makes her extra cautious with her 9-month-old son.

“Makes me feel nervous about going out. Even a cold could be RSV and you may not know it. So you can’t take any chances with his health because something we might get over in a week, he could be hospitalized for.”

According to neonatologist Dr. Samuel Wellman, seeing cases of RSV this early can mean more than one thing.

It can mean the season is starting earlier or it will be worse than it usually is:

“It has a very high infection rate.”

However, doctors also believe that a positive to the virus starting earlier is that the earlier the virus starts spreading, the earlier it will end as well.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the virus is common in children by their second birthday. However, there are no vaccines or treatments for it.

Wellman said the symptoms of the virus are there:

“What the parents need to know is if their baby has cold symptoms, they probably don’t need to go to the pediatrician. If their baby starts having very rapid breathing or sort of having retractions, having a hard time, sucking in when they breathe, or having trouble feeding because of breathing, they need to see a pediatrician.”

Hoyle told WSBTV that she’s going to continue to be cautious:

“Probably just keep him inside and away from public sooner even, which is hard because of the holiday season coming up and going to visit family.”

According to the CDC, some of the earlier signs of the virus are a runny nose, a decrease in appetite, or a cough, which may progress to wheezing.

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