CDC warns about a rise in the number of RSV cases in southern states

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (WDEF) – A new warning from the CDC cautions parts of the southern United States, including Tennessee and Georgia, about a rise in the number of  RSV cases.

The officials say that RSV isn’t usually life threatening, but it does hospitalize more than 2 million children each year.

“RSV is a common respiratory virus. It is named Respiratory Syncytial Virus. RSV in general causes common cold symptoms; generally upper respiratory infection which includes: cough, congestion and running nose or conjunctivitis. In some patients, the younger, the more likely, it can spread into a lower respiratory tract infection and that is where you get the increased work for breathing, struggling to breathe, low oxygen levels and a more serious infection,” says Dr. Jason Zurawick, Pediatrics at Erlanger.

Doctors say that normally RSV is rampant during the winter months, but thanks to masking up – the majority of cases were absent this year–and are just appearing now. 

“With the masking and social distancing, we really did not see RSV this winter. But with the economy opening back up, everyone is going back out and enjoying their lives. We didn’t see RSV at all this winter but we are seeing it now with people going back out and being active again,” says Dr. Zurawick.

RSV is typically spread by respiratory droplets and can be life threatening to newborns, infants and adults over the age of 65.

“The risk for babies is that their airways are small. This virus causes inflammation causing damage to the lining of the airway which can lead to blockage of the airway. It’s also very severe the first time you get it. With the older patients that have more morbidities with other lung problems are at more risk also,” says Zurawick.

Currently there is no medication to cure RSV. Medicine can only treat the symptoms.  It can however, be prevented  by washing hands and covering mouths and noses when sneezing or coughing-something we should all be good at by now.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging clinicians and caregivers to consider testing for RSV when a Covid-19 sample comes back negative.

For more information about RSV, click here

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