Flint, MI—Hamilton Community Health Network is reminding Flint parents and seniors to watch for signs of Respiratory Synctial Virus (RSV) as flu season begins to kick in.

RSV is a respiratory virus that acts and feels remarkably like the common cold but can cause severe infection in infants and older adults.

Each year, RSV leads to approximately 2.1 million outpatient visits to doctor’s offices in children under five years old and hospitalizations for nearly 200,000 adults 65 and older.

Dr. Maria Bernabe, a pediatric provider at Hamilton, says the symptoms of RSV start out similar to that of a cold. 

“We often see kids coming in with a runny nose, cough, and fever,” she said. “But with RSV, the infection can become serious very quickly.”

Dr. Bernabe explained an RSV infection can lead to dangerous complications like bronchiolitis and pneumonia, especially in children under one year of age. Parents should keep a close eye on their child’s condition and contact their doctor if they begin to have trouble breathing, seem dehydrated or their symptoms worsen over time.

Adults can also contract RSV, with symptoms lasting one to two weeks.

For adults, doctors recommend managing the symptoms just like you would a cold. Drink plenty of fluids and rest as much as possible. Over-the-counter cold medications and fever reducers, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, can also help alleviate symptoms.

Adults over 65 should talk to their healthcare provider if it feels like their condition is not improving, or they are having trouble breathing.

RSV is contagious and spreads through air droplets, surface contact, and direct contact. Dr. Bernabe suggested the following actions to avoid spreading the infection: 

  • Limit close contact with others, do not allow people to kiss or snuggle your infant or young children
  • Do not share cups or utensils
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Avoid touching your and your baby’s face with unwashed hands
  • Limit time your children spend in childcare centers
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, counters, and mobile devices

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