COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Doctors’ offices in the Chattahoochee Valley are seeing an influx of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).  The disease can impact children, but it can also affect adults and is highly contagious.

According to Piedmont Physician Dr. Timothy Villegas, RSV symptoms in adults are similar to a cold or the flu but can cause major health issues for young children. Adults may experience symptoms such as sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, congestion and a light cough.

Children under age five are susceptible to serious illnesses if they contract the infection. RSV can increase the risk of lung disease, lower respiratory tract infections and in worse cases death. 

To decrease the likelihood of a infant catching RSV, Villegas says women who are between 32 to 38 weeks pregnant are encourage if the are scheduled to deliver during cold and flu season. 

“So if we give the vaccine to women in the third trimester of pregnancy, those antibodies that the mother ends up producing give the baby protection after the baby’s born,” said Villegas.

According to Villegas, women with RSV vaccinations had babies that were 35% less likely to develop a respiratory illness early in life, compared to women who received a placebo. The babies also had a 90% decreased risk of a severe respiratory tract illness.

There are currently a limited number of medical professional offices which have the vaccine. Physicians encourage women to contact their local pharmacies for more information.