The news of children's hospitalization due to Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV, has sent shockwaves amongst medical professionals in the United States. The RSV, as suggested by its full name, is a virus that has the tendency to infect young children and elderly people. It is the time of the year CDC warned the disease would spread.
Usually, Respiratory Syncytial Virus spreads amongst its targeted age groups during the winter months but having registered so many cases in the month of July is completely out of the blue. The officials believe that the country was under lockdown during the winter months. This is why we did not experience any spike in hospitalizations caused by RSV but it is very alarming to see it happening in the summer. RSV has mostly been known as a winter virus.
RSV in Illinois
Central Illinois hospitals were seeing a spike in the infection some time ago. "Typically from December to February is our RSV season we would call in the business," Dr. Virginia Dolan, the Director of Performance Improvement at Memorial System said. "It's been found that we are seeing more cases when we normally wouldn't see any -- and it's been proof for our labs in central Illinois, as well as St. Louis Children's hospital, is also reporting the same.”
Symptoms of RSV and who gets infected
The Respiratory Syncytial Virus, as aforementioned, can infect young children and infants. It also goes on to infect elderly people, usually over 65s. The level of seriousness of illness caused by RSV can vary from individual to individual. Amongst the mild symptoms of this virus are normally cough, low fever, and runny nose just like any seasonal flu. But this virus can be lethal for some people and can cause breathing difficulty, relentlessness, a negative change in appetite. As a parent or caretaker, if you notice any of these symptoms, you should stay alert for any kind of situation instead of getting panic.
A public health notice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
On June 10, 2021, after monitoring the ongoing health situation linked to RSV the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had to publish a notice on their website. It says "due to reduced circulation of RSV during the winter months of 2020–2021, older infants and toddlers might now be at increased risk of severe RSV-associated illness since they have likely not had typical levels of exposure to RSV during the past 15 months. In infants younger than six months, RSV infection may result in symptoms of irritability, poor feeding, lethargy, and/or apnea with or without fever. In older infants and young children, rhinorrhea and decreased appetite may appear one to three days before cough, often followed by sneezing, fever, and sometimes wheezing. Symptoms in adults are typically consistent with upper respiratory tract infections, including rhinorrhea, pharyngitis, cough, headache, fatigue, and fever."
Prevention is possible
There is no specific treatment for RSV but a care plan is advised and recommended by medical experts to mitigate the chances of your child being infected by the virus. The plan includes washing your hands more regularly when approaching infants, not exposing your baby to crowded places, to someone who smokes or is sick as it can increase the chances of virus transmission. Doctors have developed a medicine but it is prescribed to only those who are in a serious condition and are being treated as high-risk patients.