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FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Respiratory Syncytial Virus is a viral disease that mostly affects children, with symptoms that include fever, wheezing and difficulty breathing — it can occur in people of all ages, however, and generally takes the form of cold or flu-like symptoms in adults with stronger immune systems.

Though RSV had shown a downward trend in numbers since 2020, likely due to the adoption of public health measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has observed an increase in RSV detections since March.

Pediatric advice is to watch for worsening symptoms and seek medical attention.

“Adults and older children can also be infected with RSV but generally tolerate it quite well,” GLWACH Pediatrician Capt. Parker Thompson said. “However, children under 3 years old are more affected by the virus’s ability to increase mucus production in the airways and tend to have a more difficult time fighting the virus.”

It is spread by direct contact with infectious materials through eyes, mouth and nose. RSV can also be spread by an infected person with fever or contact with a surface that an infected person has touched or coughed on.

Mitigation measures for COVID-19 work well to also prevent the spread of RSV, said Capt. Terra Forward, chief of Fort Leonard Wood’s Department of Public Health.

“Proper hand washing, cleaning contact surfaces and staying home are key in slowing the spread,” she said.

According to Maj. Austin Drake, Primary Care Service Line interim chief, RSV is one of the oldest viruses pediatricians test for.

“It commonly causes cold-type symptoms in children, but can cause a more significant illness called bronchiolitis — not bronchitis,” Drake said. “Your pediatric providers are always happy to talk to you over the phone through a virtual encounter, or if you are really concerned, see your child in the clinic.”

Parker said treatment of RSV centers on keeping the nose clear of mucus, fever control and maintaining hydration. If a child is having difficulty breathing, they may need to be seen by a medical provider.

Appointments at GLWACH may be made by calling 866.299.4234.