MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is a common respiratory virus that affects young children. RSV rates were low last year due to social distancing and mask-wearing, but that has since changed as public health measures loosened.
The Alabama Department of Public Health doesn’t track RSV, but it are keeping a close watch on the virus.
“Typically the ones that we worry about the most are very young infants, especially premature infants, and they can be very severely affected, even going to the hospital, leading to the ICU, so it can be a very serious illness,” said Dr. Wes Stubblefield with ADPH.
Stubblefield says while RSV isn’t new, they have seen a shift in the RSV season. He says that’s due largely in part to COVID-19 mitigation efforts such as social distancing and mask-wearing. But as public health measures have been loosened, things have changed.
“It hasn’t acted like it has in the past, so we’re just we’re just watching it very closely,” said Stubblefield. “We’ve seen some peaks, sometimes even in the summertime, which is very unusual. Typically this is a winter and early spring-type virus, much more like the flu.”
Because of how infectious RSV is, doctors are reminding parents to keep a close eye on their children, especially if they get cold and cough symptoms that worsen.
“If they start to have difficulty breathing, which is a hallmark of RSV, or audible wheezing, they need to go in and see their health care provider,” said Stubblefield.
RSV and COVID-19 are both viruses and can show the same initial symptoms, but there are some differences. The cough associated with RSV can sound more wheezing than if it were COVID-19.
There is not a vaccination for RSV.
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