LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — October is Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) awareness month and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is advising people to take the steps to prevent the spread.
RSV is a very common, contagious virus that causes infections of the respiratory tract. This year the virus has been seen more than anticipated across the state throughout the summer and early fall which is also trending across the country.
RSV leads to approximately 2.1 million outpatient visits and 58,000 hospitalizations among children under five years of age each year in the United States. There are approximately 177,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 deaths seen in adults over 65.
The virus is normally spread airborne after a cough or sneeze.
Symptoms of RSV are typically mild. For some people, the virus can cause severe infection. These groups of people include but are not limited to: infants and young children, older adults, people with heart and lung disease or people who are immunocompromised.
“It is possible to take simple measures to protect your child from RSV,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “Avoid close contact with people who are unwell, wash hands often, cover sneezes, avoid touching your face with your hands and frequently disinfect surfaces.”
MDHHS reminds individuals that it is of high priority to immediately call your child’s health care provider if your child has any of the following symptoms:
- A cold and is less than six months of age or at high risk for RSV.
- Difficulty breathing:
- Short, shallow and fast breaths.
- Skin between ribs or under the neck pulls with each breath.
- Lips, tongue or skin color turns blue or gray.
- Trouble eating, drinking or sleeping.
- Gets dehydrated (decreased number of wet diapers).
MDHHS also highlights the following steps you can take to help prevent the spread of RSV. They advise keeping your children home when sick, avoiding close contact actions like kissing, handshakes, sharing cups and utensils and clean frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, toys and mobile devices.
Children aren’t the only ones at risk for intense RSV infection, older adults are too. Infection in older adults can lead into serious problems like pneumonia.
There is no specific answer or treatment to getting rid of RSV. According to the MDHHS, ways to help include: monitoring fever and pain, drinking fluids and talking to your health care provider.
For more information about RSV, visit CDC.gov/RSV