While each winter season brings some form of the flu, this year, another type of respiratory illness is increasing in numbers across the country.
Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a flu-like virus which produces symptoms including runny nose, cough, fever, wheezing and a decrease in appetite. In more severe cases, the virus can lead to pneumonia. In adults, RSV is a common cold. However, in children under the age of five, the illness can be serious, even fatal.
Swelling and secretions can build up in a child’s airways, which are smaller than adults, making breathing difficult. About 57,000 children are treated for RSV each year, with around 500 deaths from the virus nationwide.
This winter, states including Michigan, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, South Carolina, New York and possibly more have seen increases in RSV related hospital visits.
RSV isn’t like the flu in that it spreads through the air. Instead, the virus spreads by contact. Health professionals remind people to wash their hands and keep surfaces in homes clean. They also warn to refrain from kissing infants if you feel or are sick. Any child displaying symptoms of RSV should be taken to a medical center immediately.
More information about RSV can visit The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.