Kristyn Allen and Suamico grandmother share RSV stories as cases rise

Published: Oct. 28, 2022 at 10:52 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Cases of Respiratory Syncytial Virus--known as RSV--are on the rise in Northeast Wisconsin. The potentially deadly virus is serious for newborns, infants, and toddlers.

Doctors say the virus is spreading earlier and more rapidly this year.

Action 2 News This Morning reporter Kristyn Allen knows RSV very well. In 2019, her twin daughters came down with RSV when they were six-weeks-old. Her daughter Braelyn nearly died.

Kristyn says Braelyn also had a heart defect. However, her twin Brielle had no health issues but was on a ventilator.

Today, the twins are happy and healthy. However, the family still deals with the after effects with Braelyn.

Brielle and Braelyn
Brielle and Braelyn(Kristyn Allen)

Kristyn’s family is one of countless stories, including the Cambray family of Suamico.

Two-and-a-half-year-old River is a busy toddler. Just two weeks ago it was a very different story.

“It was the most helpless I’ve felt in my life,” says Paula Cambray, River’s grandmother and legal guardian.

River was on a ventilator at HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital in Green Bay. He had contracted RSV.

“He just wasn’t himself. He was struggling. You could see he was struggling to breathe,” says Paula.

It was a harrowing five days while River was intubated. He was able to come off the ventilator and recover at the hospital.

Typically RSV causes cold-like symptoms, but when it infects the lower respiratory tract, that’s what often leads to hospitalizations and further intervention.

“RSV causes what we call as bronchiolitis. That is the most common cause. It’s, basically, inflammation of the smaller airways in children, and that’s the most common cause of infection in the United States of children under one year of age,” says Dr. Pradeep Prakash, Pediatric Intensivist, HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital.

RSV is spread through respiratory droplets, but unlike COVID-19, it is easy to catch from surfaces.

“It lives on hard surfaces for a few hours. So, hand washing is the most important thing. When you’re out, when you come back home, you need to wash your hands. And, then, wiping down surfaces. Like, if you’re going out shopping, wiping the car down. When you are out on the playground, wiping down where your child plays,” says Dr. Prakash.

If your child gets RSV, the most important thing to do is watch their breathing.

Be alert for chest retractions--pulling of the skin and soft tissue between the ribs and under the sternum.

Also look for bobbing of the head when breathing.

Those are signs of a struggle to breathe.

“If you think they’re struggling, take them in within 20 minutes of us being in the ER they were talking about intubation and i in no way shape or form thought it was that bad,” says Cambray.

Kristyn’s advice to parents is to follow your gut instinct. If you think something is abnormal, it probably is. You are your own best advocate.


  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Wheezing