TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a dangerous virus that effects children from two months to two years old. In the beginning it has signs and symptoms similar to the common cold, but the treatment process for RSV is different.
“We test for that because it's important because sometimes the treatment duration lasts two to six weeks, and these children need to be followed closely. Sometimes they need to be on breathing treatments, SVN's, we call them albuterol inhalers to help keep those lungs open up,” said Dr. Ryan Roberts, emergency room physician.
According to the Nationwide Children's Hospita,l cases of RSV have doubled in the past two weeks. The increase in RSV cases is normal before or during the flu season.
“RSV is similar to the flu. They’re in the similar time frames of the year, so late fall all the way through early spring. So RSV season is actually longer than our flu season, we are already in RSV season. We have already had positive cases of RSV. I’ve tested for the influenza virus here multiple times and have not yet found it. Flu season has not yet started. However, RSV season has, it starts a little bit earlier, generally the end of October, November and goes into March, April," Dr. Roberts said.
This virus sends more than 140,000 children to the hospital each year and 90 to 100 percent of children will be effected by this at least once in their life.
Because RSV is so closely connected to the common cold, distinguishing the differences is crucial.
"Typically symptoms start like a common cold with runny nose, poor feeding and low grade fevers. And then it doesn't clear up. Then the children develop a little bit of wheezing, shortness of breath more, and they come in to be evaluated about it,” Roberts said.
The best way to help prevent RSV in babies is by washing hands often, disinfecting surfaces and toys, avoiding sharing dishes and drinks and reduce the number of people young babies are exposed to.
But when should you go get your child checked out?
"We like to say respiratory distress when your child seems to be having an increase work of breathing. We talk about retractions which means when you can see the child sucking in his chest because he's breathing so hard or sucking in through their neck area. If your child's having audible wheezing or flaring of his nostrils trying to breath that hard that kid needs to be evaluated as well," Roberts said.
There is no vaccine yet for RSV, just an injection given to a sick child to lessen the effects of the virus.
There have been confirmed cases of RSV at St. Luke's but no cases of the flu yet. If you’re still looking to get your flu shot visit the St. Luke’s clinic.