A common bug called respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can affect anyone, but affects infants at a higher rate. Because of this Black women who often give birth to premature babies are at risk of their child developing RSV. This virus doesn’t normally begin circulating among American kids until late fall, but has gotten an earlier start this year. As kids head back to school, this may cause concern for parents who don’t know how to tell the symptoms apart from COVID-19, experts say.
Getting RSV during the summer is unusual, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued an alert about a rise in RSV cases in Southern states.
“We’re seeing more winter-like viruses this summer than we’ve ever seen,” Dr. Steven Abelowitz, medical director of Coastal Kids, a pediatric group in Orange County, Calif says. “We are speculating that over the last few months, with society opening up after lockdowns, viruses are surging up a bit because kids are now exposed more than they were prior.”
RSV affects the nose, throat and lungs. In most people, it causes cough, runny nose and sometimes a fever. Symptoms usually last seven to 10 days, but some kids develop a cough that takes up to six weeks to clear.
RSV can also cause pneumonia or bronchiolitis (inflammation of small airways in the lungs) in babies. People older than 50 with heart or lung disease are also at risk of complications from RSV.
The virus is highly contagious. If your child gets it, keep him or her away from anyone who is at high risk of serious illness from the virus, experts from the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles advised.
What should you do if you suspect your child may have RSV symptoms?
If your child has RSV symptoms, the first thing to do is