As cases of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) are on the rise in New York State and across the country, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is issuing guidance for parents and families with infants or older loved ones experiencing symptoms. RSV causes mild, cold-like symptoms like runny nose, decrease in appetite, coughing, sneezing, fever, and wheezing, and although in most cases RSV infections will clear up within a week or two, it can lead to severe disease like pneumonia for those without strong immune systems, including in children younger than one years old and older adults. Cases have tripled in the United States in the past few weeks and following CDC guidelines can greatly reduce the chances of catching RSV.
“The surge in respiratory illness has strained hospitals and caused alarm among parents of infants and families with older loved ones,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Thankfully, there are concrete, meaningful steps families can take to try to prevent RSV infections and to treat their loved ones should they become ill. Many of the same steps we implemented during the pandemic – hand washing, avoiding close contact with sick people – can prevent the spread of RSV and I urge families to follow this important CDC guidance.”
Ideally, people with cold-like symptoms should not interact with children and older adults at high risk for severe RSV disease, including premature infants, children younger than 2 years of age with chronic lung or heart conditions, and children and older adults with weakened immune systems. If this is not possible, they should carefully follow the prevention steps mentioned above and wash their hands before interacting with such children and older adults. Refrain from kissing high-risk children and older loved ones while they have cold-like symptoms.
Those at high risk for developing severe RSV disease can follow these steps to help prevent the spread:
- Avoid close contact with sick people
- Wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid touching their face with unwashed hands
- Limit the time they spend in child-care centers or other potentially contagious settings, especially during fall, winter, and spring. This may help prevent infection and spread of the virus during the RSV season
According to the CDC, people infected with RSV usually show symptoms within 4 to 6 days after getting infected. To relieve symptoms:
- Manage fever and pain with over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. (Never give aspirin to children.)
- Drink enough fluids. It is important for people with RSV infection to drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration (loss of body fluids).
- Talk to your health care provider before giving your child nonprescription cold medicines. Some medicines contain ingredients that are not good for children.
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