RSV taking greater toll on infants than influenza

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, has been the cause for more infant hospitalizations than influenza in recent weeks in the U.S.

RSV is a respiratory virus that attacks the lungs and breathing passages. It causes cold-like symptoms in most people and the infection generally clears in one to two weeks. However, the infection can be severe infants and some young children. It is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children under one year of age, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For infant Jude Sanford, what started out as a simple cold, soon turned into a trip to the Arkansas Children's Hospital. Every year, the virus causes up to 125,000 trips to the hospital and more than 200 deaths in babies under the age of one, according to CBS News.

"We had six-week-old little boy running nearly a 104 temperature and was struggling to breathe, and so, just really concerned," Jude's father said, CBS News reports. "So we got him here as quick as we could."

The Arkansas Children's Hospital is currently treating more babies for RSV in its intensive care unit than for the flu.

Researchers have yet to develop a vaccine against RSV. A drug called Synagis, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved prescription injection of antibodies, has proven effective in protecting high-risk infants from severe RSV disease. Children can still get the illness after receiving the injection, which must be given every month.