RSV: Making a 2021 Warm Weather Comeback in Children

By Carolina Boyd

Updated: July 20, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has made many parents more watchful for virus related symptoms in their children. However, there is another health issue that should not be overlooked—respiratory syncytial virus (RVS). This childhood virus causes mild, cold-like symptoms, as well as infections of the lungs and respiratory tract. While typically a fall and winter virus, RVS has been making a warm weather comeback across the country, including here in Texas.

Recently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a health advisory encouraging health professionals to test patients with acute respiratory symptoms for RSV if they test negative for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. RSV can impact anyone. In fact, most children have been infected by the age of two. Fortunately, children usually recover from an RSV infection on their own.

The virus can be potentially serious for infants. According to the CDC, the most common cause of bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the small airways of the lung, and pneumonia in children younger than one year of age in the United States is RSV. Symptoms are very similar to a cold and usually appear within four-to-six days of exposure.

RSV symptoms include runny rose, coughing, sneezing, fever or wheezing. Pediatricians can diagnose RSV by asking parents about symptoms as well as doing a physical exam. It is important to contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child develops serious symptoms such as breathing difficulties, high fever, wheezing or a blue tinge to the skin, especially on the lips and nail bed.

There is no vaccine currently developed for RSV but there are steps parents can take to stop the spread:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Don’t touch face or hands with unwashed hands.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your upper shirt sleeve.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces like toys and doorknobs.

Children most at risk for severe or life-threatening RSV infections are premature infants, babies younger than six month, as well as children with chronic health issues, weakened immune systems and neuromuscular disorders.

Regardless of what respiratory symptoms your child is dealing with call 832-548-5000 or visit our website to make an appointment to see his or her Legacy pediatrician.