The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning about RSV, a cold-like respiratory disease, amid a spike in cases round the southern U.S.
The public health agency issued an official advisory on Thursday urging clinicians and caregivers to be watching out for the virus, which is known to attack the airways and lungs. Experts said they have seen an uptick in favorable infections in at least a dozen states, including Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina.
“Due to this increased activity, CDC encourages broader testing for RSV among patients presenting with acute respiratory illness who test negative for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19,” the advisory states. “RSV can be associated with severe disease in young children and older adults.”
Cases of this virus normally peak during the autumn and winter, the CDC said, leading to around 58,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. each year.
Infants and children are at highest risk of severe illness due to RSV, as are older adults who have underlying medical conditions, according to the agency.
Here’s what to understand and the best way to protect yourself along with your loved ones:
What is RSV?
RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is an upper respiratory illness typically spread through airborne droplets when someone sneezes or coughs, according to the CDC. You could even grab it through direct contact with a contaminated surface.
It’s the most common cause of bronchiolitis, experts say, and pneumonia infections in kids younger than 1.
Signs and symptoms of RSV
RSV generally presents such as a cold with symptoms including a cough, headache, runny nose and fever, the CDC says. In younger individuals, particularly babies, the virus can lead to fussiness or irritability, loss of appetite, and lethargy earlier more prevalent symptoms such as a cough or coughing appear.
While there’s no specific treatment for RSV, public health experts say people usually recover in one or two weeks.
Others can become very ill, however. Every year, 177,000 adults over 65 have to hospitalized and an estimated 14,000 expire because of RSV infection, based on CDC data.
Can you get tested for RSV?
Testing typically is not required to diagnose a favorable RSV infection, according to the American Lung Association. But, doctors can run a blood test or take a mouth swab to affirm.
Additional testing may b