RSV: what it is, what it means, and what you can do

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We all know hand washing is important but in some cases, it can even save lives. RSV, the respiratory syncytial virus, reached epidemic levels last year. According to the CDC, signs of RSV aren’t much different from those of the common cold. Coughing, sneezing, and fever typically occur within a week of exposure and most people recover within one to two weeks. For at-risk populations such as infants and the elderly, however, the virus may have more serious effects and could even result in hospitalization. Complications such as bronchiolitis, pneumonia, or a lower respiratory tract infection are possible with very young infants and those with weakened immune systems.

Health officials say it’s important to prevent transmission of the disease as much as possible. Because the virus is spread through both direct and indirect contact of saliva, hand washing becomes all the more important. The virus can live on hard surfaces such as doorknobs and crib rails for hours, making it necessary to not only disinfect your hands, but also your home. If you or your child begins to experience symptoms, the CDC recommends limiting time in contagious settings such as school or the workplace.

Though a preventative medication exists, it’s always best to consult with your physician to find the best option for your family. In the meantime, a little soap and water can go a long way.


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