01/03/2013 12:10 EST | Updated 03/05/2013 05:12 EST

Winnipeg children's hospital sees increase in child respiratory infections

WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is reminding parents to protect young children from a potentially serious respiratory virus.

The Health Sciences Centre Children's Hospital in Winnipeg is seeing an increase in RSV-induced bronchiolitis, which is an infection of small airways in the lungs.

Dr. Cheryl Rockman-Greenberg says babies less than 12 months old are most vulnerable to the contagious virus.

She notes that some recent cases in hospital required the use of oxygen masks and ventilators.

Rockman-Greenberg says basic hygiene and common sense — such as keeping babies away from crowded public areas — are the best ways to protect against the virus.

There have been 149 confirmed cases of RSV since August with 85 admissions to the Children’s Hospital since mid-December alone.

Nearly half of the cases involved babies between one month and six months old.