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Parents of a 4-month old Missouri girl diagnosed with RSV warn other parents

Posted at 4:03 PM, Dec 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-20 18:37:29-05

KANSAS CITY, Kan.  — A simple cough turned into something much worse; and a 4-month old baby from Savannah, Missouri, north of St. Joseph, almost didn't survive.

Harlee Foster developed a cough about a week ago and her parents took her to the doctor; and brought her home with instructions from the doctor.

"I didn't leave her side for about two days just trying to suction her out and keeping her airway clear as much as we could," Harlee's mom Jesse Foster said.

But Harlee's dad, Michael Foster, said his daughter got worse.

"She was coughing really hard and -- trouble catching her breath," Michael said.

Her parents rushed Harlee to the emergency room at the University of Kansas Hospital. Pediatric ER physician Dr. Apurva Panchal diagnosed Harlee with RSV, a highly-contagious - and potentially deadly - respiratory virus that strikes babies and the elderly because of their weakened immune systems.

"The kids will have some kind of a cough that could come with fever and sometimes they will start having some breathing difficulties," Panchal said.

Baby Harlee's heart stopped and doctors intervened. She was revived and connected to a ventilator to breathe for her.

"I never thought they would be coding our daughter and doing compressions on her-- that's not something you think about," Jessse said.

After three-days in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Baby Harlee improved.

"Her heart sounds great - I'm not concerned about that," Panchal said. "Her lungs are also sounding very well."

According to the Center's for Disease Control, as many as 500 children a year aged 5 and under die from RSV in the United States. If your child begins
wheezing, doctors say it's time for parents to get medical attention.

"They're pulling really hard to bring the air in their lungs; Or if they have a faster breathing rate - that's the sign that the parent should be aware of and should bring their kid to the hospital," Panchal said.

Now Harlee's parents are warning other parents and the public about how to reduce the risk of another child being diagnosed with RSV.

"Keeping kids home when they're sick and always doing hand-hygiene and don't kiss babies that you don't know," Jesse said.