Published on July 21, 2022

Pediatrician warns of Summer Cases of RSV

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – (July 21, 2022) As the summer heat drags on and Pine Belt children head back to class, Hattiesburg pediatrician, Anita Henderson, MD, FAAP, and president of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, warns that she and other pediatricians are seeing a lot of RSV this summer.

 “RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, is typically seen in the fall and winter months, but we are seeing a lot of it this summer,” Henderson said. “Previously, we had not seen it much because of masking and social distancing associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.”

While most people recover in a week of two, RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults. According to the CDC, RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than 1 year of age in the U.S.

People infected with RSV usually show symptoms within 4 to 6 days after getting infected. Symptoms of the infection usually include:

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

These symptoms usually appear in stages and not all at once. In very young infants with RSV, the only symptoms may be irritability, decreased activity, breathing difficulties, they may turn blue because of a low oxygen level, and poor feeding along with some fever. Most RSV infections go away on their own in a week or two.

There is no specific treatment for RSV infection, though researchers are working to develop vaccines and antivirals (medicines that fight viruses).

Take steps to relieve symptoms

  • Manage fever and pain with over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. (Never give aspirin to children.)
  • Drink enough fluids. It is important for people with RSV infection to drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration (loss of body fluids).
  • Talk to your healthcare provider before giving your child nonprescription cold medicines. Some medicines contain ingredients that are not good for children.

Healthy adults and infants infected with RSV do not usually need to be hospitalized. But some people with RSV infection, especially older adults and infants younger than 6 months of age, may need to be hospitalized if they are having trouble breathing or are dehydrated. In the most severe cases, a person may require additional oxygen or intubation (have a breathing tube inserted through the mouth and down to the airway) with mechanical ventilation (a machine to help a person breathe). In most of these cases, hospitalization only lasts a few days.

 “I’d recommend if you have a new baby, you may want you to stay home,” said Henderson. “We want you to avoid large crowds, stay home, and stay away from people who might have a cough, cold, or runny nose. Just don’t kiss the babies right now.”

 

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