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Ask Dr. Nandi: RSV in Michigan

Posted at 5:38 PM, Jan 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-06 22:44:06-05

(WXYZ) — A common respiratory virus is now hitting peak season and the Michigan Department of Health has been reporting high activity of it here in the South-East Region.

RSV is very hard to avoid at this time of the year, in fact, many of my son’s friends have been infected with this very contagious virus.

Now RSV is short for Respiratory Syncytial Virus and it’s similar to the common cold. But while a cold is something many of us endure for a short time before getting better, RSV in young children, especially infants, can lead to pneumonia or bronchiolitis - which is inflammation of the small airways in the lung.

Now RSV can also be quite dangerous for older adults as well. They too can develop pneumonia or end up with a chronic condition called congestive heart failure. And that’s likely because as we age, our immune systems tend to weaken so we can’t fight off the bad germs as easily.

Unfortunately there is not a vaccine, but scientists are working towards developing one. As for treatment, there are no drugs that can cure this virus.

But if an infant was born premature or has certain health conditions, then a medicine called palivizumab could be administered, which may help protect them during RSV season.

RSV can start off just like a cold with a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and a decreased appetite. Typically the infection will go away on its own in a week or two, but with infants, keep an eye out for wheezing, rapid breathing or apnea. That’s when a child’s breathing pauses because of the infection.

If you notice any of these, seek medical attention right away.

Now to help stop RSV from spreading, please wash your hands often with soap and water, avoid touching your face, cover your coughs and sneezes and please stay home if you’re not feeling well.