LAGRANGE, Ga. — Most children under the age of two have had Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV at least once.
It’s very common and highly contagious. RSV spreads through droplets containing the virus when someone coughs or sneezes. It lives on surfaces such as countertops and doorknobs, hands and clothing.
Infections often happen in epidemics and the symptoms are similar to what one would see in the common cold.
“It usually peaks January, February. It starts off as a running nose, and congestion, and cough and fevers,” said Dr. Kalyani Rajeev of Wellstar Medical Group Pediatrics.
But for those children with a chronic illness, weakened immune system, born prematurely, or those younger than age two born with heart or lung disease, RSV can be very serious with more severe symptoms.
“More severe symptoms will be respiratory distress, sometimes respiratory failure. Those kids may have to be admitted, they may also need supplemental oxygen, or things like that to help them breathe,” said Dr. Troy Harden of Wellstar Medical Group Pediatrics.
Some tips for parents to keep the virus from spreading include:
- Teach children to sneeze and cough into their sleeves and not their hands
- Teach children to wash their hands at least 20 to 30 seconds
- Since the virus can live on countertops and doorknobs, be sure to wipe down surfaces with Lysol type disinfectants.