With some news outlets in the Dallas area reporting spikes in hospitalizations related to the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) virus I wanted to provide some basic information about RSV to help dispel any misinformation.
RSV is a virus that causes seasonal outbreaks primarily in the winter season much like the flu virus. It causes acute respiratory illness in people of all ages but seems to affect children the worst. It is a very common cause of lower respiratory tract infection in children and a frequent cause of hospitalization. Most children have been infected by RSV by age 2 and it is possible to be reinfected.
RSV has cause severe illness in high risk groups like the young and old or those with pre-existing lung or heart conditions like asthma or congenital heart disease.
Symptoms vary by age with children often presenting with fever, cough, respiratory distress, and wheezing. These symptoms are often preceded by upper respiratory symptoms like congestion. Adults tend to present with upper respiratory tract symptoms.
Apnea is a frequent cause for presentation to the ER and hospitalization. RSV infections are usually self-limited and treatment is supportive. There are rapid tests that can confirm the presence of RSV but there are no anti-virals that treat the infection.
If you or your child show any signs of any respiratory illness that is consistent with RSV it may be worth seeing your health care provider.
Of course, each individual case is different and the advice in this post should not substitute for getting a consultation with your doctor.
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