LANSING, Mich. — October is RSV Awareness Month and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is encouraging everyone to take steps to prevent the spread of respiratory syncytial virus.
RSV is a respiratory virus that usually peaks in the winter, though RSV activity this year has been higher than expected across the state through the summer and early fall and is trending across the country.
Each year in the U.S., RSV leads to about 2.1 million outpatient visits and 58,000 hospitalizations among children under 5 years older, according to a news release Monday.
There are about 177,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 deaths among adults over age 65.
RSV is highly contagious and spreads through droplets in the air after a cough or sneeze.
In adults and older children, symptoms are usually mild and may seem like a cold.
However, the virus can cause severe infection in come people, including infants and young children, older adults, people with heart and lung disease or people who are immunocompromised.
MDHHS says people with cold-like symptoms should not interact with children and other individuals at high risk for RSV.
Parents should also call their child’s health care provider “right away” if their child has any of the following signs or symptoms:
- A cold and is less than 6 months old or at high risk for RSV
- Difficulty breathing
- Short, shallow and fast breaths
- Skin between ribs or under the neck pulls with each breath
- Lips, tongue or skin color turns blue or gray
- Trouble eating, drinking or sleeping
- Gets dehydrated (decreased number of wet diapers)
“It is possible to take simple measures to protect your child from RSV,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “Avoid close contact with people who are unwell, wash hands often, cover sneezes, avoid touching your face with your hands and frequently disinfect surfaces.”
Other steps include keeping children home when sick, avoiding close contact actions like kissing, handshakes, sharing cups and utensils and cleaning frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, toys and mobile devices.
Symptoms in older adults can develop into serious conditions like pneumonia.
Most RSV illness goes away on its own and there is no specific treatment for the virus other than monitoring fever and pain, drinking fluids and talking to a health care provider with any concerns.