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Ask Dr. Nandi: Young, elderly most at-risk for RSV virus on the rise in Michigan

Posted: 5:33 PM, Dec 19, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-19 22:55:17Z
medical generic

(WXYZ) — A very common virus is on the rise in Michigan. Anyone can catch it but the very young and the elderly are most at-risk.

Question: What is this illness and how concerned should we be?

If you get this very contagious viral infection, you might think you’ve caught a bad cold or a cough. It’s called RSV which stands for Respiratory Syncytial Virus. This illness can be very dangerous in children under the age of 2 and for folks who are 65 and over. And that’s because the virus causes respiratory issues. It attacks your lungs, eyes, nose and throat. You’ll likely have symptoms like wheezing, coughing, runny nose and a fever. For most people, you’ll be feeling better after a week or two. But for the young and old, it can lead to inflammation of the small airways in the lung which is called bronchiolitis, and pneumonia, which we all know can be life-threatening.

Question: How do you know if it’s serious or not?

If you’re having trouble breathing then it’s important to seek medical care. Also watch out for dehydration and coughing up yellow, green, or gray mucus. With infants, look for short, shallow and rapid breathing, bluish color of the skin including lips and nails, poor feeding and lack of energy.

Question: The CDC says most children will have had this by their second birthday. Does that mean we’ve built up immunity and won’t get sick again?

I wish that was the case. You can get an RSV infection more than once in your life and at any age. And since this is very contagious, I have some prescriptions:

Partha’s RX

1. RSV can survive for at least 30 minutes on hands, so be sure to wash yours often with soap and water for twenty seconds.

2. If you have a child less than 6 months old, try to keep them away from crowds or people who are sick during peak season. Which can last until April.

3. RSV can live for several hours on infected surfaces. So frequently clean toys, busy areas, bathroom and kitchen countertops.

4. Don’t allow smoking at home or in the car if you have young children. Because tobacco smoke can lead to an RSV infection, or cause more-severe symptoms in infants.