RSV can progress to much more severe symptoms in really young, really old people

The influx of the virus keeps emergency rooms and pediatricians busy
Health officials are expressing concerns about the surge in RSV infections in children...
Health officials are expressing concerns about the surge in RSV infections in children throughout the United States.
Published: Nov. 9, 2022 at 10:12 PM CST
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — KSLA News 12 has reported on the rise in RSV cases, both nationwide and here in the ArkLaTex.

The influx of the virus keeps emergency rooms and pediatricians busy.

Our Jade Myers spoke with local experts about the rise in cases and how you can spot symptoms of RSV.

“RSV is the short name for Respiratory Syncytial Virus. This is a common virus that comes around in the wintertime,” Dr. John Vanchiere, of LSUHS, explained. “For most adults, it causes just a cold.

“For older adults and young children, it can be much more problematic because it causes a lot of inflammation in the airways.”

The CDC says RSV season generally starts in the fall and peaks in the winter. However, health experts say right now they’re seeing more cases than expected.

“We don’t know exactly why. But one of the leading hypotheses is that over the past two years we’ve all been wearing masks and been proactive at preventing the virus infections,” Vanchiere said.

“And that means we’ve got a lot of toddlers that never have been exposed to RSV in the past and they are more susceptible because they don’t have any pre-existing protection or immunity from the virus.”

Children tend to be the ones who have the more severe symptoms with RSV, said Jamiee Brice, a pediatric nurse practitioner with Quickcare. “They’re the ones getting tested and for us to recognize it because they’re the ones having to seek treatment for it. When it’s a younger baby having difficulty breathing, fever, things like that. They’re the ones coming in for care.”

RSV is spread through droplets.

“As you cough, talk and sneeze, the little droplets come out and anyone that’s within that a 6-foot bubble can kind of breathe them in,” Brice explained. “You can also contract it by coming in contact with these droplets.”

RSV can spur several symptoms. “It usually has mild symptoms but can progress to much more severe symptoms in usually the really young or the really old,” Brice said.

Health experts say you can help protect yourself against RSV by:

• covering your coughs and sneezes,

• avoiding close contact with sick people, and,

• washing your hands.

As of now, doctors say, there is no treatment for RSV. However, there is supportive therapy to help your immune system fight it off.