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What is RSV?

child with rsv

A common respiratory virus typically seen in kids during the winter months has been popping up during the fall. Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, usually affects kids under 2-years-old.

Thomas Murray, MD, Associate Medical Director of Infection Prevention for Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital said a surge in cases during the fall in older children could be a result of the pandemic. Kids who spent more time isolated from others are still susceptible to the virus, even though they got older.

RSV symptoms

Common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Congestion
  • Runny nose

Look familiar? Dr. Murray said it’s “almost impossible” to tell the difference between RSV and COVID-19. To help stop the spread of COVID-19, kids need to be tested if they present with any of those symptoms.

If the COVID-19 test is negative, Dr. Murray said treating RSV comes down to symptomatic care. Get kids rested and hydrated with fluids and chicken soup.

Common respiratory illnesses

RSV is just one of nearly a dozen other respiratory illnesses that tend to circulate in the fall and winter. Other common viruses include rhinovirus, which is the cause of the common cold, parainfluenza, which can cause croup, and the flu.

Everyone should get a flu shot. If parents suspect their child has the flu, they should call their pediatrician as certain medications can help their recovery.

Stop the spread of respiratory viruses

Dr. Murray said now is also a good time to brush up on the basics of infection prevention.

“The most important thing is not going to surprise anyone these days but it’s hand washing, hand washing and more hand washing,” Dr. Murray said.

COVID-19 predominantly spreads through the air, but other common respiratory viruses spread by touching surfaces and then touching the face – something kids do all the time. Don’t forget to wear a mask in crowded spaces and keep kids home when they get sick.