4:13 PM, Feb 27, 2020


State expecting a rise in RSV cases among kids; here's what to look out for & how to stay safe

Baby containers in the maternity hospital
Posted at 10:23 AM, Nov 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-06 10:23:11-04

(WXYZ) — The COVID-19 vaccine began rolling out to kids between the ages of 5 and 11 across the state this week.

That means hundreds of thousands of Michigan kids could be fully vaccinated in time for holiday celebrations.

But, as we enter the cold and flu season, there is another virus that medical experts say should have families on alert.

The threat of Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) poses a danger to kids and some adults.

Central City Integrated Health said they are expecting a growing number of cases of RSV.

"With kids back in school, back in preschool, back in daycare, the interaction between them, the particles are spreading and that's why we're seeing it," Dr. Jasper Gill, the chief medical officer at Central City Integrated Health, said.

Symptoms of RSV can be tough to distinguish from a cold.

They appear in stages and include:

  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Wheezing

In infants, the only signs of RSV may be irritability, less energy and breathing difficulties. In kids under the age of one, RSV is the most common cause of pneumonia and a condition called bronchiolitis.

"[It's] is an inflammation of the small airways or pneumonia in the adult. That's also another time to be evaluated either at your physician or in the ER, depending on severity," Gill said.

Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, the chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said the state is already seeing more RSV cases than they did last year.

She added that last year's COVID-19 protocols almost eliminated cold, flu and RSV. The state health department said older infants and toddlers who were spared RSV last winter might be at greater risk of severe illness this season.

"With both COVID circulating and respiratory viruses circulating, this could be a very bad mix," Bagdasarian said.

Adults 65 years and older with chronic lung or heart disease, or with weakened immune systems, are at heightened risk. Also, adults that have any condition that makes breathing more difficult like asthma or COPD.

What can you do to protect your family? Gill said the old staples of cold & flu season like covering your cough, washing your hands and disinfecting high-touch surfaces are your best best. Also, avoid anyone showing symptoms.

"Treat their fever. If they're having a fever, give them tolerance, give them fluids. If they stop taking fluids, that's the time they need to go to the hospital," Gill said. "Then maybe we need to do an IV for them."

One to two percent of young infants with RSV need to be hospitalized, according to the CDC.

The good news is most children will recover, and there is a medicine that can help protect babies at high risk for severe RSV disease.

It's a series of monthly shots given to premature babies and infants with certain heart and lung conditions.

So far, there is no vaccine to prevent RSV, but Pfizer and Sanofi are each working for older adults and babies.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.