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RSV Cases on the Rise in the South; Lung Association Shares Important Information About Potentially Severe Children’s Virus

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The American Lung Association in South Carolina on Wednedsay shared information about symptoms of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health advisory about an increase in disease activity last week.

RSV is a common respiratory virus that can infect people of all ages. It is so common that most children have been infected with the virus by age two. Most people, including infants, usually develop only mild symptoms similar to that of a common cold, with congestion, runny nose and cough. But for some, it can be severe and even life-threatening.

According to the CDC’s Advisory, health officials have seen an increase in RSV cases in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

The Lung Association urges parents to watch for symptoms of RSV in their children, which include:

  • Mild cold symptoms like congestion, runny nose, fever, cough and sore throat. Very young infants may be irritable, fatigued and have breathing difficulties. Normally these symptoms will clear up on their own in a few days.
  • A barking or wheezing cough can be one of the first signs of a more serious illness. In these instances, the virus has spread to the lower respiratory tract, causing inflammation of the small airways entering the lungs. This can lead to pneumonia or bronchiolitis.
  • Infants with severe RSV will have short, shallow and rapid breathing. This can be identified by “caving-in” of the chest in between the ribs and under the ribs (chest wall retractions), “spreading-out” of the nostrils with every breath (nasal flaring), and abnormally fast breathing. In addition, their mouth, lips and fingernails may turn a bluish color due to lack of oxygen.
  • When to Call a Doctor: You should call your doctor if you or your child is having trouble breathing, has poor appetite or decreased activity level, cold symptoms that become severe, or a shallow cough that continues throughout the day and night.

For more information about RSV, visit https://lung.org/rsv.

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