Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Local News

January 1, 2014

With cold weather come seasonal viruses such as RSV

As high levels of seasonal flu have been reported there has also been a number of other seasonal illnesses affecting children, such as RSV.   

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common virus causing infection of the lungs and breathing passages. This highly contagious virus is a major cause of respiratory illness in young children.

In adults and older children, RSV may only produce symptoms related to the common cold, such as stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, cough and fever, said Texas Health Cleburne pediatrician Dr. Ayman Arouse, who has seen a number of RSV cases this season. However this virus is particularly dangerous for children six months old or younger because it can cause severe lung infections, including bronchiolitis and pneumonia.

Arouse also said others at higher risk for severe illnesses caused by RSV are children younger than 2 years with chronic lung disease or heart problems and people with weakened immune systems.

According to the Centers for Disease Control website, each year in the United States, 75,000 to 125,000 babies younger than 1 year old are hospitalized due to RSV infection. However, there is a rise of RSV cases.

Carrie Williams, Texas Department of State Health Services spokesperson, said the reason for that is because it is the season for RSV.

“The season for RSV goes from late fall, winter and early spring,” she said. “Doctors start looking for [RSV] in late October.”

Arouse encourages parents who have high-risk children to talk to their primary physician about an FDA-approved prescription injection of antibodies called Synagis, to help protect their children from severe RSV disease.

But if the child is already sick, Arouse recommends parents use nasal saline drops for nasal congestion, Tylenol for fever control and lots of fluids. However if the child begins wheezing and having difficulty breathing, it’s time to call the doctor.

Because RSV is contagious, Arouse also says to take preventive measures from spreading the illness such as avoiding crowded places, avoiding close contact with sick people, constant hand washing and covering coughs and sneezes.

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