SAN ANTONIO – RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus, is a common cause of cold-like symptoms but can be serious for infants and the elderly.
Cases dropped dramatically last year, with people staying home and social distancing, but began popping up as pandemic restrictions eased.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory in June about an increase in RSV cases across parts of the south. RSV cases are usually higher in the winter, but doctors believe that with more people coming out of quarantine cases of RSV have risen in the summer.
Children infected with the virus usually develop only mild illnesses, but for some, these infections can be serious. Among U.S. kids under the age of 5, RSV typically leads to 2 million doctor-office visits each year, 58,000 hospitalizations, and up to 500 deaths — higher than the estimated toll on kids from COVID-19.
In infants, symptoms may include fussiness, poor feeding, fever, and tiredness. Children may have runny noses, decreased appetite, coughs, and wheezing.
But in very young infants and those born prematurely, the virus can cause small airways in the lungs to become swollen and filled with mucous.
Babies who develop this condition may require hospitalization and oxygen or ventilator treatment.
There is no approved treatment for RSV, although a once-monthly injection of an antibody-based medicine is sometimes prescribed before and throughout RSV season to help prevent severe RSV lung problems in premature infants and other babies at risk for serious disease.
Re-infections are common but typically cause milder symptoms than the initial illness.
RSV spreads through contact with airborne droplets from an infected person, but it’s much more likely than COVID-19 to linger on the skin and other surfaces including toys, which can also be a source of transmission. Doctors encourage washing your child’s hands and wiping down their shared toys.