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Don't kiss babies: RSV nearing peak season in East Tennessee

What seems like just a common cold to an adult can cause a lot more damage to a baby's tiny immune system.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — As viruses spread during wintertime, one that doctors are starting to see more of is RSV.

That's respiratory syncytial virus and it's common for kids under 18 months old to contract.

Kids like Jaelyn McKinney, who was born premature.

"We had her home for about two and a half weeks after her obligatory NICU stay, and she caught RSV, not sure how, there were lots of visitors," said Jaelyn's mom Karen McKinney.

RSV is a respiratory virus that to adults is just a common cold, but for babies it hits a lot harder.

"We had to stay nine days at Children's Hospital and it was really really sad to watch her with oxygen [tubes]," said McKinney.

RELATED: Doctors warn sick people not to kiss babies due to RSV on the rise

Not all cases of RSV are this severe, but they aren't great at any stage.

For kids under 18 months old, it really effects their lungs.

"RSV creates lots and lots of mucus and their airwaves are tiny, they don't know how to cough, they don't know how to blow their nose," said pediatrician Stephanie Shults.

She said the symptoms are noticeable.

"You're looking more for respiratory effort," said Shults. "If the child's breathing more than once a second which is 60 times a minute, they're not drinking well, they're not urinating as much as normal."

Shults has seen between 20-30 cases over the past month, none bad enough to be admitted to the hospital.

RELATED: Charlotte dad warns other parents as his two children fight RSV

There are at-home solutions for parents.

"Using saline to suction out the nose is the best thing, you can do Pedialyte if they won't take their milk very well."

Shults said making sure kids get lots of fluids and parents are working to flush out the mucus are the most important actions.

The best way to not get RSV is to not let people touch your babies.

What's just a cough to you may turn into RSV in their tiny immune systems.

"I've literally had to step in front and say please don't touch her hands don't touch her face," said McKinney.

She caught it as an adult last winter from Jaelyn, who got it for the second time in her young life.

RELATED: Doctors warn of respiratory virus affecting kids and adults

McKinney is determined not to go through that again with her new infant.

"No one's kissed my baby now," she said. "We've been a lot more cautious this time around."

East Tennessee Children's hospital had 26 cases of RSV last week.

They said that's normal for this time of year.

If you notice any of the signs of RSV, never hesitate to contact your pediatrician.