RSV in the News

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: December 2022 | Last updated: December 2022

The cold months are upon us! As the temperature drops, so do our chances of staying healthy. Unfortunately, this means that respiratory infections like RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) are on the rise. This probably is no surprise to you, as you may have already heard about RSV in the news.

RSV is a hot topic in the news because of the recent uptick in cases, especially among children. It is easy and quick to spread, so when one person gets it, others in their family and school are likely to catch it too. In some cases, RSV can cause severe symptoms, such as:1-3

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Fever

What is RSV?

RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus, a common virus that causes respiratory (breathing) infections. It spreads quickly by contact with an infected person or through the air when someone coughs or sneezes. Most people who get RSV will have mild symptoms, but it can be severe in some cases, especially for those at risk.4

RSV can mimic the common cold, but the symptoms tend to last longer. RSV symptoms include:3,4

Some people may also develop an ear infection or bronchitis (inflammation of the main airways).3,4

Who is at risk?

Anyone can get RSV, but certain groups of people are more likely to become seriously ill. Infants and young children less than 2 years old have the highest risk of getting severe symptoms like pneumonia or bronchiolitis (an infection in the tiny airways leading to their lungs). Older adults, those over 65, and people with weakened immune systems or chronic health conditions such as heart or lung disease are also at increased risk for more serious RSV infection.4

We have seen a surge in RSV cases due to children returning to school and daycare centers after months away from other kids. Since RSV is highly contagious, it spreads quickly in close quarters like classrooms and daycares, where germs can travel easily between people. This increase in cases has made RSV a topic of discussion among parents and healthcare workers.1,2

Helping protect those at risk

You can help protect those at risk by taking certain precautions, such as washing your hands often, avoiding close contact with those who are sick, and staying home when you feel unwell. Disinfecting high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, tables, and countertops can also help limit the spread of germs. Also, if you have a baby or older adult in your house, keep their living space clean.5

The news is abuzz with talk of RSV this season. It is important to be aware of this virus. It could be dangerous, especially for babies, older adults, and those with weakened immune systems.4

Taking some simple steps can help keep everyone safe. Healthy habits like washing hands often, avoiding close contact with those who are sick, and disinfecting surfaces can help protect people at risk for RSV. Take care of yourself and your loved ones this cold season. Together we can stay healthy and safe!1,2,5

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