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Dad of Sick Baby Warns of Devastating Consequences of Not Washing Hands

A father who “almost lost” his baby daughter to a series of sicknesses including the über-contagious respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) has taken to social media to warn others about the dangers of not washing hands “before handling little ones.”

The Memphis-area father (whose name is not known) detailed his infant daughter’s scary saga Wednesday on Imgur, where his post with a note and two photos of the baby he calls a “little fighter” has gone viral. The child was admitted to the hospital for viral meningitis three weeks ago, he explained, before sharing that, “Now she is fighting RSV. We almost lost her last Monday. Our local hospital told us if she got any worse there was nothing more they could do for her.”

The dad continued to detail how, as soon as the family began to transfer the baby to another hospital, “she flatlined” and that “they revived her and put her on a ventilator immediately.” Diagnosed with a number of issues including RSV, pneumonia, bronchiolitis, “and a partially collapsed right lung” the dad shared that “needless to say, it’s been a rough week for my little one. But now I can gladly say that she is doing much better … She has beaten so many odds this past week and made me even more proud to call her my daughter.”

And for other parents not well aware of RSV, the father offers a warning: “RSV is no joke,” he declared. “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. And make sure to wrap them up when heading outside into the cold.” (The father did not respond to Yahoo Parenting’s request for comment.)

But what this baby is battling is a little more complicated, according to Austin, Texas, pediatrician Ari Brown. “Being out in the cold doesn’t cause RSV or pneumonia,” theBaby 411 author tells Yahoo Parenting. “A child could get hypothermia if she’s outside in a onesie when it’s 20 degrees, but you’re not going to get pneumonia or a cold from being outside or not bundled up in the cold.”

The warning to wash hands and cover children from others’ coughs to prevent contracting RSV, however, is an important message to heed, Brown says. “It’s a really rough virus, like the worst cold you’ve ever had,” she explains of the illness, which is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (a lung infection) and pneumonia in children under 1. “And though 97 percent of kids do fine with it and become ‘happy wheezers,’ so to speak, with a cough for four to six weeks then they get over it,” she says, “for a small subset of kids, they can get really sick and need oxygen support.”

Age partially makes the difference, Brown says, noting that prematurely born babies and infants under 3 months are typically at the greatest risk for developing significant problems with RSV. By age 2, in fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that “Almost all children will have had an RSV infection.”

It’s certainly hard to avoid, after all, because as the CDC reveals RSV “can be spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes into the air” and it “can survive on hard surfaces” for hours. “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,” elaborates Brown. “So we definitely encourage really good hygiene especially this time of year — but could somebody die if you don’t wash hands? Technically, yes, though very few do.”

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