BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Health experts say that while most people recover from RSV in about a week or two, the virus can be serious for infants and older adults.
Local doctors are warning that there has been a recent uptick in RSV cases among children in Louisiana.
In a recent interview with NOLA.com, Dr. Mark Kline, physician in chief at Children’s Hospital and an infectious disease specialist said, “Historically, RSV is more of a wintertime epidemic. We would see a smattering of cases in summer.”
He went on to explain that nearly ten percent of all RSV tests results at Children’s Hospital have been positive and that though this past winter the number was as low as one percent, Our Lady of the Lake Children’s (OLOL) Hospital in Baton Rouge reports that as of this summer, positivity rates have been as high as 18%.
On its official Facebook page, OLOL warns, “We typically think of RSV as a winter virus. However, RSV cases have spiked in children this summer…. be sure to wash your hands and be cautious around infants who are vulnerable.”
The CDC says, “People infected with RSV usually show symptoms within 4 to 6 days after getting infected.”
Typical symptoms of RSV:
- Runny nose
- Decrease in appetite
These symptoms don’t usually appear all at once, and in very young infants with RSV, the only symptoms may be irritability, decreased activity, and breathing difficulties. Infants with RSV may not have fevers, healthcare specialists say.
In young children, early symptoms of RSV may include:
- Runny nose
- Decrease in appetite
- Cough, which may progress to wheezing
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If you are diagnosed with RSV, the CDC recommends managing your symptoms by:
- Taking fever and pain with over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. (Never give aspirin to children.)
- Drinking enough fluids. It is important for people with RSV infection to drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration (loss of body fluids).
- Talking to your healthcare provider before giving your child nonprescription cold medicines. Some medicines contain ingredients that are not good for children.
The CDC suggests that parents or guardians of children who are especially susceptible to RSV (which may include children who were born prematurely, are very young, have chronic lung or heart disease or a weakened immune system), take the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Washing your hands will help protect you from germs.
- Keep your hands off your face
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Germs spread this way.
- Avoid close contact with sick people
- Avoid close contact, such as kissing, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who have cold-like symptoms.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your upper shirt sleeve when coughing or sneezing. Throw the tissue in the trash afterward.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that people frequently touch, such as toys, doorknobs, and mobile devices. When people infected with RSV touch surfaces and objects, they can leave behind germs. Also, when they cough or sneeze, droplets containing germs can land on surfaces and objects.
- Stay home when you are sick
- If possible, stay home from work, school, and public areas when you are sick. This will help protect others from catching your illness.