RSV // The virus that went viral in the heimishe community

By Goldie Guttman

It’s just another Sunday, and I’m standing in line at a toy store in Boro Park. Harried parents shift from one foot to the other as they wait. The line stretches down the LEGO aisle, and hordes of children convene around a display of fidget pop toys.
A familiar-looking woman in a black wig catches my eye and says, “Hi! I think we were in Monroe together!” While I’m generally terrible with faces, we’d recently spent several days at the Aishes Chayil kimpeturin home in Monroe together, and I do remember her. (Phew!) We spend a couple of minutes catching up.

After telling me that her entire family is in love with their new princess, a girl born after several boys, she inquires about my newborn. I tell her he’s recovering from a rough bout of RSV. She nods knowingly and says, “My baby had it over Pesach…”
Apparently, this woman and I are among hundreds, if not thousands, who have experienced RSV firsthand with their babies in the past few weeks.

My personal run-in with RSV starts a little after Pesach. After spending Yom Tov with family, I’m just catching my breath and getting my own family back on some semblance of a schedule. The laundry hamper is now only full, no longer overflowing, and there seems to be some hope for a return to routine and normalcy.
Amidst all this, I hear that my new nephew, about 11 weeks old, has contracted RSV. My experience with RSV is limited. I remember that one of my children had it, but it wasn’t a severe case at all, so I’m not too concerned. It’s just a cold, I think to myself. No big deal. That changes when I speak with my sister-in-law. Her son has fever, is wheezing and is extremely congested; his breathing is labored, especially at night. Since he is so young and is having trouble breathing, he is at risk of hospitalization if matters get even slightly worse.

It is then that I start to worry about her and her little one. (If you know me, you know that I tend to…um…worry. A bit. A lot. Whatever.) To make matters worse, I hear of many other cases of RSV over the next few days. The virus is spreading like wildfire, and the number of hospitalizations is beginning to escalate.

Articles begin to circulate on large news websites, reporting on the worrying number of virus cases in the heimishe community. The statistics are startling.

The Times of Israel states, “According to the city’s Health Department, there were ten documented cases of RSV in Brooklyn during the last week of February. During the week of April 4-10, there were 294.”



To read more, subscribe to Ami