RSV makes early entrance in Arkansas

Published: Oct. 21, 2022 at 7:06 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - A common virus for kids is not only already seeing cases in Arkansas, but it’s coming earlier than expected.

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is a respiratory illness that typically sees its peaks during the winter. With the pandemic, RSV saw a change in seasonality. Meaning we are seeing more cases earlier here at home, especially with children.

RSV is a common respiratory illness that causes respiratory infections in all ages, but it becomes more concerning in small children.

Dr. Kevin Rouse with The Children’s Clinic said that because of Covid, cases are being seen in times when it’s not usually seen.

“We saw a ton of RSV this summer, we’re seeing a lot of it now, which is a little early, I mean it’s October now so this would be typically when we start seeing it but seeing it through the summer is very rare,” he said.

He said the virus can cause a cold for adults or older children, but the virus can become more serious with younger children.

“In young children, it can cause a more severe illness and we call that central bronchiolitis. As a result, babies won’t feed well, get dehydrated or other complications such as pneumonia,” he said.

Children at higher risk include premature infants, children with chronic lung disease or congenital heart disease, and nerve muscular development disorders.

Dr. Rose said the symptoms may present as a congestion or cough, but if an infant isn’t feeding well, has a fever, or has signs of respiratory stress, it could indicate a more serious illness and parents should visit a doctor.

Given the higher numbers the region has seen over the summer, Dr. Rouse said we could expect more in the coming months.

“Typically, RSV is going to usually hit October, November and run through Winter to March. We’ve already had a significant peak here July, August, September, so the real season’s coming, and we expect it could be a lot worse,” he said.

With the holiday season coming, Dr. Rouse said it was important for those with small children to keep an eye on those who may be sick, as they could be carrying the virus.