When it comes to so-called “cold and flu season,” sometimes it seems like families can’t catch a break. Between influenza A, influenza B, norovirus and the common cold, staying healthy during winter in Michigan can feel like a challenge.
Now, health officials say there’s another virus parents should be aware of – and it’s one you might recall hearing about when your child was just a newborn. Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is on the rise in Michigan and other states, Newsradio WSGW recently reported.
What is RSV?
RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild cold symptoms and lasts about a week or two. However, it can be serious – and it can be dangerous for infants and young children, especially those born prematurely, infants who are 6 months old or younger, and other groups, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While it is often discussed in relation to children, RSV is also a significant cause of respiratory illness in older adults, the CDC reports. There is no vaccine for RSV, and treatment usually includes over-the-counter fever reducers and drinking plenty of fluids, though some children may require hospitalization in more serious cases. According to the Mayo Clinic, children at high risk of complications from RSV may be prescribed the medication Synagis.
RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children less than a year old, the CDC notes.
While symptoms of RSV can be similar to other viruses, here are some of the main signs to watch for that could point to RSV, according to the CDC. If you are concerned that your child may have RSV, talk to a healthcare provider right away.
- Runny nose
- Decrease in appetite
In very young children, only symptoms may be irritability, decreased activity or breathing difficulty
Preventing the spread
RSV is very contagious, the Cleveland Clinic notes, and those who have it are most contagious during the first two to four days of the virus.
People who have RSV can continue to spread the virus between three to eight days, the CDC reports, although some people can continue to be contagious for even longer. It mainly is spread when someone who has the virus coughs or sneezes, or through direct contact with someone who has it.
Unfortunately, RSV can survive on surfaces for many hours, according to the CDC. Proper hand-washing techniques and cleaning contaminated surfaces are recommended.