RSV on the rise in Washington state, according to SRHD

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Spokane Regional Health District Dr. Francisco Velazquez says RSV is common during the fall and winter months.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Respiratory illnesses like Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV, are on the rise in children. In fact, pediatric hospitals in many states are at capacity with kids fighting infections.

Dr. Francisco Velazquez is the health officer for the Spokane Regional Health District.  He says RSV is common during the fall and winter months, adding that every year, close to 60,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized.

Locally, the health officer says it’s hard to track the number of cases.

 “It’s not a reportable disease in the state of Washington in many states,” said Velazquez.

However, Velazquez further explains that doctors in the area are seeing more cases this season.

Providence Medical did not give an exact number, but said there is a rise in cases that is typical for this time of year. 

Velazquez says precautions during COVID-19 might have prevented kids from building a strong immune system. RSV usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms in children and senior citizens.  Most people recover in a week or two, but serious cases can lead to bronchitis or pneumonia. Velazquez says parents should seek medical care when symptoms linger. 

 “If there’s a persistent fever, particularly if they develop respiratory symptoms, like difficulty breathing, rapid breathing rate, a cough that sounds wet, wheezing, those are signs that there’s something more in the lungs, not just up in your throat and your nose,” said Velazquez. 

 Velazquez says RSV and COVID-19 are very different viruses. 

“They’re both respiratory viruses. They’re both RNA viruses,” said Velazquez. “And that’s about the end of the similarity.”

He says COVID’s omicron strain attacks the upper respiratory system and RSV attacks the lower respiratory system. Ways to combat the virus include washing your hands and sanitizing surfaces.

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