RSV Season is Here, Become Aware to Take Care
It’s that time of the year, filled with holiday cheer but also RSV season. Get to know the symptoms, complications, and when to go to the ER to enjoy the end-of-year holidays safely. Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus which if left untreated can be deadly. Get to know more about the rise in RSV cases in children and adults to prevent its spread and protect your family.
What is RSV?
According to the CDC, each year in the US there are 2.1 million outpatient visits among children younger than 5 years old and 58,000 hospitalizations. RSV is even more dangerous within the population of 65 and older, as each year it is the cause of approximately 14,000 deaths. While listed as a common respiratory infection, RSV is listed by the CDC as “the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia (infection of the lungs) in children younger than 1 year of age in the United States.”
Current RSV Cases in Texas
The Texas Department of Health and Human Services has reported a tremendous increase in cases this year in comparison to what they were experiencing a year ago. As you can see, the numbers speak for themselves within the CDC charts below revealing the total amount of antigen tests, detections, and PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests.
In order to prevent additional RSV cases in children and adults, get to know how it’s spread, the symptoms, and complications which vary.
How is RSV Spread?
Like most respiratory viruses, RSV is spread by touching an infected surface and by air. In fact, the virus can survive on hard surfaces for many hours. The following are some examples of how the RSV virus is transmitted as listed by the CDC:
- An infected person coughs or sneezes
- You get virus droplets from a cough or sneeze in your eyes, nose, or mouth
- You touch a surface that has the virus on it, like a doorknob, and then touch your face before washing your hands
- You have direct contact with the virus, like kissing the face of a child with RSV
Once infected with RSV, a healthy individual can remain contagious for 3-8 days. However, in some cases, “individuals can continue to spread the virus even after they stop showing symptoms, for as long as 4 weeks.”
Who is at Risk?
Some people are more likely to be at high risk of developing a severe RSV infection. The following are examples of who could be at a greater risk if infected and may need to be hospitalized (source CDC):
- Premature infants
- Young children with congenital (from birth) heart or chronic lung disease
- Young children with compromised (weakened) immune systems due to a medical condition or medical treatment
- Children who have neuromuscular disorders, including those who have difficulty swallowing or clearing mucus secretions
- Adults with compromised immune systems
- Older adults, especially those with underlying heart or lung disease
- Individuals with chronic health problems
- Individuals suffering from asthma
It is vital to know how to recognize RSV signs and symptoms. These tend to show up within 4-6 days and usually appear in stages. “In very young infants with RSV, the only symptoms may be irritability, decreased activity, and breathing difficulties.” Source CDC. The following are the most common RSV signs and symptoms:
- Runny nose
- Decrease in appetite
- Coughing & Sneezing
- Wheezing and difficulty breathing
Should you or a loved one exhibit any of these RSV symptoms (which do not come all at once), visit your local Altus location to have it evaluated by an ER physician and avoid possible complications.
As we have indicated, if left untreated, RSV can escalate to dangerous complications. These tend to vary in children and adults, the following are some of the most common RSV complications:
RSV Complications in Infants and Children according to the CDC:
- Bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung)
- Pneumonia (infection of the lungs)
RSV Complications in Adults according to the CDC:
- Pneumonia (infection of the lungs)
- More severe symptoms for people with asthma
- More severe symptoms for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (a chronic disease of the lungs that makes it hard to breathe)
- Congestive heart failure (when the heart can’t pump blood and oxygen to the body’s tissues)
RSV while common can be deadly particularly in adults and individuals with preexisting medical conditions. There is no reason to put your own life or others lives at risk. We offer a free medical screening at all of our four Altus locations.
When to Go to the ER
Should you suspect a case of RSV, we encourage that you get tested to avoid potential dangerous complications. Please call 911 or visit your nearest Altus location if any of the following occurs:
- If your child is lethargic, unresponsiveness
- It is obvious that they are having difficulty breathing
- Lips and fingernails turn blue
- Signs of dehydration
- High fever
- Stops breathing for more than 10 seconds.
- In older children, cannot speak while trying to breathe.
- Persistent fever of 103°F or higher
- Trouble breathing
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Inability to eat/dehydration
In the case of adults, we recommend to use your best judgement. While in young children and infants, they cannot communicate all that they are experiencing, in adults we recommend to follow your gut. If you feel as if you need emergency medical care do not risk your life.
While scientists are working on finding one, currently, there is no vaccine or cure for RSV. The best way to prevent an RSV infection is to look for ways to prevent or better manage severe illness.
Prevent the spread of RSV by following the common sense tips:
- Avoid being around people who are sick. If you are the person who is ill, do everyone a favor and stay home
- Always cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough
- Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer
- Regularly disinfect surfaces, especially those in high-traffic areas
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth to prevent germs from entering your system
- Should you suspect to have RSV, visit your nearest Altus location, we are always open and here to help you.