After a Memphis dad almost lost his baby girl to Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) caused by viral menengitis, he shared his story on Imgur as a reminder about the importance of hand washing "when handling little ones."
"We almost lost her last Monday," he wrote. "Our local hospital told us if she got any worse there was nothing more they could do for her."
RSV is a respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages. And while most healthy adults usually experience mild, cold-like symptoms and recover in a week or two, RSV can be serious, especially for infants. In fact, according to the CDC, RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than 1 in the United States.
"RSV is no joke," the dad explained in his post. "I didn't know much about it until a week ago when it almost took my daughter from me. Please make sure to wash your hands before handling little ones."
Dr. Ari Brown, author of Baby 411, calls RSV "a really rough virus, like the worst cold you've ever had," and said it's very easy to contract when proper precautions aren't taken. "RSV is not only spread through droplets, but through contact on surfaces like the grocery cart that your baby touches that another ill child was coughing on an hour earlier," she told Cosmopolitan. "So we definitely encourage really good hygiene, especially this time of year. Could somebody die if you don't wash hands? Technically, yes."
Luckily, the little girl is now doing better. But this should serve as an important reminder for parents that hand washing before handling an infant could possibly mean the difference between life and death.