GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — RSV, a respiratory virus especially dangerous to kids, is currently on the rise across the country. Doctors here in West Michigan believe the virus, typically seen in winter months, is spreading quickly now because of people shedding their face masks.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or SRV, is a virus that presents itself much like a cold in most adults.
Unfortunately, when it spreads to younger children, it can become a lot worse.
"They have difficulty breathing... they breathe really fast, their heart beats really fast, and they look like they're in a lot of distress,” said Daniel McGee, MD, a pediatric hospitalist with Spectrum Health.
"We're not seeing as much as we are during the winter months, but we are seeing a significant amount of it," Dr McGee said.
"Enough that we're kind of turning our heads going what's going on here."
Health experts like Dr McGee believe a major contributing factor is people recently ditching their face masks post-pandemic.
"We got a break this winter," Dr. McGee said. "We saw very little RSV, because everybody was masking and social distancing, and now that people are getting outside, getting together, taking off the masks, we're starting to see viruses that we normally see during the winter months.”
He says the strain going around isn't anything bizarre or unusual, but can be very dangerous to young children who catch it.
“Children don't have to be seen in the emergency room every time they have a cold," Dr McGee explained.
"When they do need to be seen is when they're having difficulty breathing... if your child is working hard to breathe, if your child is not taking in adequate amounts of liquids, then your child needs to be seen.”
He says the best way to avoid catching RSV is to fall back on those habits we all got so familiar with over the pandemic.
"We should always be washing our hands when we get the chance, and not coughing on people, covering our mouths when we do cough,” Dr McGee said.
There is no vaccine or quick cure for RSV.
“The treatment for RSV is more symptomatic care," Dr McGee said. "We help the child to breathe oxygen, or other means, but there's nothing we can do to make the RSV virus go away any quicker.”