SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ - Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a very contagious respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages. If you are young and healthy, most of the time it will resemble a bad cold and disappear in one to two weeks without any intervention. However, for babies and older people, as well as adults with underlying medical conditions, it can lead to serious problems such as pneumonia and inflammation of the lungs, which can be life threatening and require hospitalization.
RSV is most prevalent from late fall to early spring. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), “RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia in children younger than 1 year of age in the United States. In addition, RSV is being recognized more often as a significant cause of respiratory illness in older adults.” Symptoms often mimic those of other respiratory infections, such as a congested or runny nose, loss of appetite, headache, and sore throat, but then become worse with fever, severe coughing, sneezing, and sometimes wheezing. Other times, especially in infants, lethargy, irritability and breathing difficulties may be the only noticeable symptoms. Call your doctor if you notice any signs of difficulty breathing, dehydration, lack of appetite, or a cough with yellow, green or gray mucus. According to Web MD, “if your baby is very tired, breathes rapidly, or has a blue tint to the lips or fingernails, get medical attention immediately.”
While there is no vaccine for this virus, high risk babies can be given a medication called palivizumab to help avoid it. For the rest of us, common cold prevention techniques such as frequent hand washing, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, and avoiding people who appear ill can help prevent this virus from spreading.
Contributing Author: Susan Baldani, a life member of the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad.
The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad is a volunteer organization of Neighbors Helping Neighbors. With over 90 volunteers, we answer calls not only in Scotch Plains but in surrounding towns as well when needed. Besides answering calls, you will see our ambulances at many special events held in town, such as Scotch Plains Day, the Memorial Day Parade, high school football games, and the summer concerts on the Village Green. We are also available to provide demonstrations for Boys and Girls Scout troops, clubs, and any other group that may be interested in what we do. In addition, we lend out wheelchairs, crutches, canes and other assorted medical equipment free of charge. Please reach out to us if there is something we can do for you. (908) 322-2103 for non-emergencies or firstname.lastname@example.org