Respiratory Syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) Virus, or RSV, is a respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages. Healthy people may become infected with this virus and usually experience mild, cold-like symptoms and recover in a week or two.
But RSV can be serious, especially for infants.In fact, RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia in children younger than 1 year of age in the United States.
RSV infections generally occur during fall, winter, and spring. In our area, RSV infections peak between November and March. Symptoms of RSV infection are similar to other respiratory infections. Illness usually begins 4 to 6 days after exposure (range: 2 to 8 days) with a constantly runny nose and decrease in appetite. Coughing, sneezing, and fever typically develop 1 to 3 days later. Wheezing may also occur. In very young infants, irritability, decreased activity, and breathing difficulties may be the only symptoms of infection.
RSV can be spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes into the air, creating virus-containing droplets that can linger briefly in the air. Other people can become infected if the droplet particles contact their nose, mouth, or eyes. RSV can survive on hard surfaces such as tables, crib rails and toys for many hours. RSV typically lives on soft surfaces such as tissues and hands for shorter amounts of time. As with any contagious illness, common sense measures like washing hands and surfaces are most effective at preventing the spread of RSV.
While there is no specific cure for RSV infection, it is my recommendation that patients experiencing symptoms are seen in our office. The severity of your child’s specific condition will be assessed and a quick, in-office nasal swab test will likely be performed to confirm the diagnosis. A treatment plan will be discussed which can include medications and home care for milder cases or hospitalization for more severe cases. If your child is having respiratory symptoms that are lingering for more than 3 days without getting any better, please contact Bridget at 910-892-1333 to schedule an appointment to have your child evaluated before the infection gets worse.
Dr. Mary Ann