ATLANTA - As millions prepare to travel for Thanksgiving, doctors and parents are issuing a strong warning for families: Do not pick up or kiss any babies.
Acworth mom Julie Gamull is still sharing her son John's story seven years later.
"People don't want to hurt great granny's feelings or uncle so and so's feelings. It's about protecting the baby. It's not about getting your snuggles and stuff," Gamull said.
She says at 3 weeks old, John almost died from a respiratory virus called RSV.
"He was born November 13, so we already had friends and relatives in for Thanksgiving not thinking anything of it. Nobody looked like they were sick."
In fact, Gamull didn't even know John was sick until she took him in for a checkup. That checkup turned into a Life Flight to Egleston Hospital. John was having trouble breathing.
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"We almost thought he couldn't make it. We had a priest come in and give him last rites."
"RSV is really common, especially this time of year," said Dr. Matt Linam, associate professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Emory and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
Linam said for adults, RSV can feel like a common cold, but for babies, it can be very serious.
"Often, these infants come into the hospital and they need IV fluids because they get dehydrated and they need oxygen because they're having trouble keeping it up on their own. So they can be pretty sick," Linam said.
He explained that anyone can spread these harmful germs to babies by simply touching them or breathing on them.
That's why moms such as Gamull say their message may sound harsh, but it's important.
"Don't be afraid of hurting somebody's feelings because I think that was probably my fault," Gamull said.
"I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. 'Of course you can hold the baby.' But now that I've been unfortunately on this other side, I would definitely use a lot more caution."
Thankfully, John is now a healthy and happy 7-year-old.
We know you've heard this tip before, but wash your hands constantly, especially if you're about to hold or touch a baby.
Moms say ask permission and if you think there is even the slightest chance you could be sick, stay far away.
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