Families are bracing for the potential of respiratory illnesses ahead of the holiday season where many families will be gathering together. 

Hospitals across Washington state are seeing the effects of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, with emergency departments exceeding 100% capacity in many hospitals. 

For most healthy people, RSV is a cold-like nuisance. But for the very young, the elderly, and people with certain health problems, it can be serious and even life-threatening. 

The virus can infect deep in the lungs, causing pneumonia, and in babies it can impede breathing by inflaming their tiny airways. 

Mother Alisa Peterson said she got a first hand look at the effects RSV has on kids after her nephew was diagnosed with RSV. 

Peterson said her nephew was sick for a few months, but with no specific treatment for RSV infections, she said they just hoped for the best. 

“There wasn’t a lot to do, so I know they did some kind of steroid for him to help his lungs a bit but there wasn’t much to do other than hope he doesn’t get worse,” said Peterson. 

Health officials with Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital said that patients are still waiting hours to get seen with one of the longest wait times earlier this week hitting 12 hours and on Wednesday they said they saw over 220 patients.