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RSV is more than just a common cold

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

You may have heard about the national outbreak of RSV in children and adults. Ashtabula County Medical Center Pediatrician Sampurna Shakya, MD, explains more about this childhood illness.

“RSV normally peaks in the fall and winter, but we are seeing early cases of it nationally and locally,” he said. “We are concerned because RSV is highly contagious and the outbreak comes at a time when children are headed back to school.”

Children with RSV usually have mild, cold-like symptoms, But, RSV can also cause more serious infections. It is the most common cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis in babies. Children and adults who have respiratory problems such as asthma or COPD are also at risk for more serious symptoms. “Mild symptoms include runny nose, cough, or low-grade fever. More serious symptoms are heavy cough, extreme tiredness, sore throat, difficulty breathing or wheezing, and headache,” said Dr. Shakya. RSV symptoms usually last three to eight days, but severe cases can cause respiratory distress for several weeks.

“RSV is transmitted when someone sneezes or coughs. The infected droplets can last for several hours on surfaces like tables, door handles, or desks,” Dr. Shakya said.

“Of course, wearing a mask around others keeps these large droplets from spreading if we cough or sneeze, but we can also transmit them by touch. If you are wearing a mask, do not remove it to cough or sneeze. If you cough or sneeze without a mask on, do so into a tissue or the crook of your elbow or shoulder. Immediately throw out the tissue and then wash your hands or use hand sanitizer,” Dr. Shakya said.

RSV symptoms are similar to COVID-19, so testing may be required to determine the actual cause of the illness.

To schedule an appointment with an Ashtabula County Medical Center pediatrician in Ashtabula or Geneva, call 440-997-6980.