Children's hospitals in the United States are seeing a surge in Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). RSV is a contagious respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages of children. While it can manifest as a mild illness with cold-like symptoms in adults, it can be life-threatening in children.
It is common for hospitals to see infections occurring during the late fall and winter months, often overlapping with flu season. However, physicians have been seeing surges starting during the summer since last year at least.
The CDC says an infection usually lasts five days to two weeks and will often go away on its own. Although pediatricians say the coughs can last up to four weeks sometimes.
The RSV surge in kids is believed to be spurred on by the fact that children have returned to school and daycare, many for the first time in two years. And as we enter flu season and COVID cases are once again on the rise in many parts of the world, few of us are wearing facemasks at this point, which makes the spreading of RSV easier.
HOW TO IDENTIFY RSV IN YOUR CHILD
One of the things that make RSV so hard to identify is that the symptoms may look like a common cold:
A runny nose
Coughing, sneezing, and wheezing
Fever (but not in all cases initially)
Infants may seem unusually irritable or lethargic and have trouble breathing
These symptoms usually appear in stages and not all at once.
According to an article by CNN, parents should watch for any changes in behavior, she said, including taking longer to eat or not being interested in food at all. The child can also develop a severe cough and some wheezing.
It’s also important to watch for signs that your child is struggling to breathe or breathing with their ribs or belly
RSV can also cause more severe infections such as bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the small airways in the lung, dehydration, and pneumonia, an infection of the lungs.
If you suspect your child might have RSV, contact your pediatrician immediately.