What Every Parent Should Know About the Surge in RSV, Prevention, and Treatment

Dec 02, 2023
What Every Parent Should Know About the Surge in RSV, Prevention, and Treatment
Respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV, normally produces mild cold-type symptoms. Currently, it’s surging in the United States and younger children may be more at risk. Here’s what every parent should know about this respiratory infection.

Since early 2020, infectious diseases have maintained a high profile. The Covid-19 pandemic grabbed the lion’s share of the attention and the strain it placed on the health care system brought awareness of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) forward. 

RSV has always been a potentially serious concern for younger children. Their developing bodies are less prepared to deal with the demands of the infection and as the precautions of Covid-19 fade from view, RSV is seeing a resurgence that might be putting your child at risk. 

At Abdow Friendship Pediatrics in Rockville, Maryland, our team wants to partner with you in your child’s health care, so we’ve prepared this primer to help you know how to get through the current RSV surge, what you can do to prevent it, and how to cope with symptoms if your child succumbs to the disease. 

A danger for young children and infants

RSV starts with a virus, the same as colds, flu, and Covid-19. It causes an infection of the upper respiratory system and presents with symptoms like: 

  • Nasal congestion and runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Light headaches
  • Fever
  • Reduced appetite

In older children, RSV may seem like a mild cold, and there’s no reason to identify it beyond its status as a respiratory infection. Young children with severe symptoms like wheezing, high fever, or labored breathing may need more urgent medical care. 

RSV can be diagnosed by testing with nasal swabs. Knowing when RSV is the reason behind your child’s illness can help us provide the best treatment while preventing potential complications like bronchiolitis and pneumonia. 

RSV prevention

Like other common respiratory viruses, RSV spreads easily across infected surfaces or between infected people, and it’s most active during the colder months — the typical cold and flu season. 

Hand washing is the starting point for fighting any viral infection, and it’s particularly important for everyone in the family around a potentially vulnerable infant. Wash with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds each time. Soap breaks down the proteins that surround the RSV virus, destroying its infective abilities. 

RSV vaccines offer another layer of protection. There are several vaccines, some designed for pregnant mothers and others made for babies and young children with elevated risk factors. Talk to us about the right vaccination for you and your child.

RSV treatment

Caring for a child who is sick with RSV is similar to treating them when they suffer from a cold or the flu. Help them stay as comfortable as possible while giving them time for rest and recovery. Offer plenty of fluids including soups and broths at meals. Infants might need frequent, small servings of liquids. 

Watch your child closely for symptoms that worsen. In particular, a rising fever and breathing troubles are the signs it’s time to contact us at Abdow Friendship Pediatrics. You can book a visit online or by phone. We also offer after hours care. Call our office and we’ll put you in touch with one of our physicians. Know the risks of RSV and reach out when necessary.