SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Is it just a cold? Or should I worry about RSV?

Cold and flu season are upon us and Intermountain Healthcare providers say Utah is seeing the rising tide of seasonal respiratory pathogens, including respiratory syncytial virus, RSV. 

“RSV is a respiratory virus that comes around every year and likes to sicken people by large numbers in our communities,” says Per Gesteland, MD, University of Utah Health and Primary Children’s Hospital. 

Dr. Gesteland says the mass majority of adult RSV cases experience cold-like symptoms. RSV in young babies, he says, is an altogether different illness. 

“What starts as a little bit of a cold in a baby can progress into a respiratory virus. For that small percentage of kids where it does, this goes from the upper respiratory tract to the lower respiratory infects your lungs,” Dr. Gesteland adds. 

Dr. Gesteland says infants under one year of age, particularly those with a history of prematurity, are among those of highest concern. And says while many infants and young children get colds affecting the nose and mouth– that will resolve in three to seven days and not require intervention. RSV, on the other hand, has a higher chance of progressing down deep into the lungs and causing bronchiolitis or pneumonia.

Dr. Gesteland says any efforts to prevent your child being exposed to RSV are helpful. “Prevention goes a long way-and that may entail you telling people that want to come visit and kiss your baby that they can’t do it. They may need to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer or put on a mask if they want to visit. So I think being proactive as a parent and protective of your child when RSV is going around might  help you avoid getting sick.” 

Dr. Gesteland says for infants older than three months, children and teenagers with simple cough and congestion with or without mild intermittent fevers of 100.4 to 103 degrees Fahrenheit, most may be treated for symptoms at home. 

Fevers that are persistent for more than three days or single fevers of 104 degrees or greater should be evaluated by a healthcare provider he adds. 

Intermountain Healthcare encourages concerned parents to check out their sight GermWatch so they can see what germs are traveling around the community. 

Related: How you can watch germs where you are

“We track these infections throughout the state, so we know when they’re coming and can see where they’re spreading and then we’ve developed it in a way where parents can go there and get educated about these things.”

 To learn more about RSV and how to prevent it click here.

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