RSV Season Has Arrived; What You Should Know About this Virus

posted on Friday, November 11, 2022 in General

It’s cold, flu and RSV season.

Each fall the public tends to hear about prevention of colds and influenza as cooler temperatures drive more people indoors, sharing close spaces and often sharing gems and viruses too. We don’t always hear as much about RSV; however, it is a very common virus, infecting thousands annually. This year RSV is in the news as a high number of cases are resulting in hospitalizations, creating stress on an all-ready stressed healthcare system.

RSV – respiratory syncytial virus – is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Anyone can become ill with RSV and most experience mild symptoms and recover in a week or two. 

However, RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults. RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children under age one.  Premature infants, babies with chronic lung problems and weakened immune systems are at an increased risk of complications from RSV.

Symptoms usually include…

  • Runny nose
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Wheezing

Nationally, we’re hearing a great deal about the high number of RSV cases and we’re already seeing both RSV and influenza activity locally. Over the past two weeks, we have had over 11 cases of RSV diagnosed in Clay County and the state of Iowa has also seen an increase in RSV cases.

A positive RSV diagnosed cannot be diagnosed at home like COVID. If you are worried that your baby or child has RSV, you will need to make an appointment to be seen by your healthcare provider. They may use a PCR test to confirm that you it is RSV along with assessing your child. 

Parents know their child best and should seek medical help when their child’s symptoms change or seem to worsen. If your infant or child appears to be struggling to breathe or if you hear your child wheezing, you should seek medical attention. 

Since RSV is a virus and not a bacterial illness, antibiotics will not work. Treatment for RSV will depend on the severity of your child’s symptoms and your health care provider.

A few things that you can do at home include keeping your baby/child hydrated, as drinking enough fluids to keep from being dehydrated will be important.

The best way to keep you or your child healthy is by striving to prevent becoming infected with the RSV virus.  Fortunately, prevention steps are the standard ones we all should be using to stay healthy:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoiding contact with sick people
  • Cover your cough/sneeze
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Clean and disinfect hard surfaces are important ways to prevent infection

One final reminder is, please, refrain from kissing babies. As an adult you can spread this illness and it might just seem like a mild cold for you; however, for a baby or young child, RSV can be a serious illness.