ATLANTA – As cooler temperatures approach, parents may worry that their child may catch the common cold or influenza, but many don’t know about another contagious and common virus that is contracted by nearly all infants by the age of two.

It’s called Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, and it’s an illness we need to look out for during flu season.

“It is the leading cause of hospitalization for children under one year of age,” Mitchell Goldstein, MD, FAAP, said.

Especially in babies born prematurely, like Jennifer Degl’s daughter, who was born about 15 weeks early.

“She was only one pound and four ounces, and not even as long as a ruler,” Degl said.

She spent four months in the neonatal intensive care unit. When she finally got released, that’s when Degl learned about RSV, which, if contracted, could put her daughter back in the hospital.

She learned what symptoms she needed to look for.

“A fever of 100.4 degrees or greater, if the child has wheezing or cough,” Goldstein said, those could be symptoms of RSV.  Others include difficulty breathing and a tired disposition.

Degl used simple, but effective prevention skills to avoid her daughter contracting RSV.

“Wash your hands before you touch your baby every time,” Degl said.

Wipe down frequently used surfaces, like counter tops, computer screens and doorknobs.

“We were able to keep our daughter from getting it, but others aren’t as lucky,” Degl said.

For more information on RSV, go to littleones.com.