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DOH Reports Cases Of Respiratory Syncytial Virus On The Rise

At a time when you'd expect the flu to become a problem, a different viral infection that feels like a cold or the flu is making the rounds in the region.  Dr. John Lanza, the Director of the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County, says that the region is seeing an unusually large number of cases of the Respiratory Syncytial Virus...an infection that causes symptoms that feel like a cold or the flu but last much longer .

Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, has a season that mirrors the flu season, beginning around now in November and tapering off in the spring.  Unlike the flu, there is no vaccine for RSV.

RSV can be little more than a seasonal annoyance for many people.  But for others it can be far more serious.  Very young infants and people with compromised immune systems are among those that Dr. Lanza says can suffer serious harm from RSV.

Though there is no vaccine for RSV, there are some medications that can make it harder to contract the illness or make the illness less severe.  However these meds have to be taken beforehand and will not help someone who already has RSV.  The medications are usually only given to premature infants who could get life threatening complications.  It's also suggested that if your child has RSV you should keep them home from school.  The problem is it is very hard to differentiate between a cold, the flu or RSV...even for physicians.

If you come down with the illness, get some rest, drink plenty of fluids and take something to control that fever.  If you suspect your child has RSV and is having trouble breathing, see a doctor. 


Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.