This time of year, there are a lot of illnesses going around. Your co-workers have probably been coughing. Your kids have probably missed some school. We’ve been seeing all the typical suspects here at the clinic: strep throat, influenza, colds, and pneumonia. This is also the peak season for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). In the last two months alone, the percentage of RSV infections we’ve treated is double the total cases treated all year in 2018 or 2019.
RSV is the most common cause of lung infection in babies younger than 1 year old. RSV is a virus that infects our airways and lungs. Symptoms of RSV include difficulty breathing, wheezing, abnormal breath sounds, cough, and congestion. Cold symptoms can usually be treated at home, but see your doctor if your child is working hard to breath or has abnormal breathing sounds.
There is a nasal swab test that can help diagnose RSV infection. We don’t have any medication for RSV, so treatment is supportive. Around 2-3 percent of kids with RSV need to be hospitalized. Those who are hospitalized might need oxygen and suction of nasal secretions. Some kids will need intensive care in an ICU. There is no vaccination for RSV; however, there is a monthly injection given to premature or at-risk babies that can help prevent infection.
Budding trees and sunshine hint that spring is on the horizon, which means that the amount RSV and other illnesses will soon decrease. In the meantime, keep washing those hands and covering that cough.