RSV Peak Season

RSV is short for respiratory syncytial virus. This virus infects the respiratory tract that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. It mostly circulates in the winter months – November to April – and it peaks in January and February, she said.

“It is very common; most have had it by 2 years of age,” Htun said. It causes a cough, fever and typical cold symptoms, such as runny nose and sneezing, too.

Most children who get RSV usually don’t need medical attention beyond care at home: care for any fevers and suctioning of the nose to keep it clear for breathing. Everyone usually feels better in 3-5 days.

Most people don’t even know when their children have it, but there are some that can be seriously affected by RSV. Those at risk for complications are those who have previous health conditions such as being born prematurely, having a low-birth weight, having heart or lung problems, or having a chronic condition.

In some little ones, RSV can cause bronchiolitis, inflammation of the small airways in the lung, Htun said. This can be serious.
“If a child’s color is off, if they’re breathing hard and fast, or if they have blueish lip color, seek medical attention,” Htun said. The child may need hospital care for a few days. They need support.

At the hospital, a child can be watched safely and kept hydrated. If necessary, the child may receive oxygen.

There are no medications or vaccines to stop this virus. It just needs to run its course.

RSV is spread through droplets are passed when an infected person coughs or sneezes and the droplets get into in the eyes, nose or mouth. They can also spread by touching a surface that has the virus on it, like a doorknob, tabletop, grocery cart or toy, and then touch your face. Additionally, it can spread through direct contact with the virus, like kissing the face of a child.

People infected with RSV are usually contagious for 3-8 days. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control, some infants, and people with weakened immune systems, can continue to spread the virus even after they stop showing symptoms, for as long as four weeks.
There are steps you can take to help prevent the spread of RSV. Specifically, adults and children old enough to be taught should:

• Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your upper shirt sleeve, not the hands;
• Throw used tissues away;
• Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds;
• Avoid close contact, such as kissing, shaking hands, and sharing cups and eating utensils, with others;
• Stay home when sick.

In addition, cleaning contaminated surfaces, such as doorknobs and toys, may help stop the spread of RSV.

People with cold-like symptoms should not interact with younger than 2 years of age or those with chronic lung or heart conditions, and children with weakened immune systems.

Should you have any questions about your child’s health, talk to the pediatricians at Penn Highlands Healthcare. Penn Highlands Pediatrics with offices in DuBois, Brookville and Punxsutawney can be reached at 814-371-1510. Penn Highlands Children’s Center in Clearfield and Philipsburg can be reached at 814-768-7618.