YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – While winter is the common time for people to contract the flu, parents are also concerned about the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) because it primarily impacts children.
RSV is very common and is spread easily, especially among babies and young children. Most patients are under the age of four, but the virus can affect people at any age. Often times, it’s confused with the common cold.
RSV causes respiratory tract infections and is the leading cause of bronchitis and pneumonia. Symptoms include coughing, runny nose, sore throat and fever. The symptoms are similar to the common cold, but they are much worse in children.
Dr. LeRoy Eberly with Akron Children’s Hospital says they are some specific warning signs parents should look out for.
“Fast breathing, flaring nostrils, grunting, that’s something that your doctor should be aware of,” Eberly said. “If they are having real difficulty breathing, go to the nearest emergency room.”
A low-grade fever and ear infection can also be caused by RSV, and the cough associated with the virus can last up to two weeks.
Eberly expects to see a lot of cases of RSV during this time of year. Because RSV is so contagious, all it takes is a simple touch to spread the virus around. Eberly says it’s likely that every child will be infected with RSV at some point.
“Good hand washing is always key for preventing these wintertime viral illnesses. When parents are going between their older children and taking care of the baby or really just anytime they are going to be handling the infant,” Eberly said.
Eberly says hand sanitizer works well, but proper hand washing is the number on preventative step.
It is possible for a child to get RSV more than once, but symptoms usually aren’t as bad the second time around.