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Respiratory Syncytial Virus
by Helen Edelman September 14, 2016

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes infections of the lungs and respiratory tract in children and sometimes adults, typically with mild symptoms that mimic the common cold. But infection can be severe in premature babies and infants with underlying health conditions, or in older adults with heart and/or lung diseases, or in anyone with a weak immune system. Signs and symptoms typically appear four to six days after exposure.

In adults and older children, RSV usually causes a congested or runny nose, dry cough, low-grade fever, sore throat, or mild headache. But serious cases can lead to a lower respiratory tract illness, such as pneumonia or bronchiolitis, with fever, severe cough, wheezing, rapid or labored breathing, or bluish color skin due to lack of oxygen.
Infants are most severely affected. They may draw in their chest muscles and the skin between their ribs, because they're having trouble breathing, and their breathing may be short, shallow and rapid. Or, they may cough and show few signs of a respiratory tract infection, but eat poorly and be unusually lethargic and irritable.

Children and adults usually recover from RSV in one to two weeks, but the most vulnerable groups may require hospitalization. Most cases of RSV aren't life-threatening, but definitely seek immediate medical attention if someone in your household, ESPECIALLY your child, experiences difficulty breathing, runs a high fever or turns blue, particularly on the lips and in the nail beds. Your doctor can give you lots of good info about RSV.

Helen Susan Edelman, LiveSmart Project Director, livesmart@classroomenrichment.org; www.facebook.com/crlivesmart

Times Union - Edited and written by Helen Edelman

LiveSmart supports the Classroom Enrichment Fund at the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region and is made possible by donations from St. Peter’s Health Partners and Price Chopper, with promotional services provided by the Times Union and WNYT/NewsChannel 13. LiveSmart is compiled by Helen Susan Edelman, Project Director. This project ensures 70,000 students and teachers in the Capital Region have equal access to news content during the school year.