Analysis & Opinions - CNN

I'm an Epidemiologist, and My Daughter’s RSV Case Shook Me

| Nov. 18, 2022

My 2-year-old daughter, Laila, recently came down with the respiratory syncytial virus or RSV, a common and highly contagious virus, and required trips to our local urgent care clinic, our pediatrician’s office and the emergency department — all within the span of five days.

It started with Laila becoming clingy and irritable — a telltale sign for me that she's about to come down with something. Shortly after, she had a runny nose and congestion. A day or two later, Laila spiked a fever of 103 degrees that continued for nearly two-and-a-half days, accompanied by a decreased appetite, and a whole lot of congestion and coughing (not to mention sleepless nights for both her and me). By day five, she was on the mend and feeling better — or so I thought. Then came on the viral rash.

I was wrapping up a late evening meeting when my babysitter knocked on my door to say Laila woke up with rashes all over her legs. I immediately ended the meeting and took off her clothes to find that small, red rashes had spread over her limbs, abdomen and chest. I took her to the nearest pediatric emergency department where she was diagnosed with viral exanthem rash, caused by her RSV infection.

Sometimes, the immune system's response to the virus causes a rash; other times, it's caused by skin cells being damaged by the virus or the body reacting to a toxin produced by the virus. The rash can appear as bumps, blotches or spots on the skin, and can start and spread anywhere on the body. Not every person who gets infected with a virus experiences a viral rash, but in the case of my daughter, she did. Her rash lasted for another week, on and off.

Cases of RSV are surging across the nation. For most people, RSV causes mild, cold-like symptoms, typically lasting for a week or two. But for infants, young children, the elderly and those with a weakened immune system, it can be dangerous, leading to dehydration, bronchiolitis and pneumonia....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Madad, Syra.“I'm an Epidemiologist, and My Daughter’s RSV Case Shook Me.” CNN, November 18, 2022.