This time of the year, many adults and children catch the common cold. Sometimes, what looks like a cold can actually be RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus. Many people recover quickly from RSV in a week or two, but it can be potentially more serious for others such as infants and elderly individuals.
Arizona is experiencing a higher-than-normal number of cases this year. With a five-year average of 239 cases, there have been 1,610 cases since Oct. 2, compared to 1,103 for the same timeframe in the 2021-2022 season. For the most-recent week, there were 581 cases compared with 240 for the same week in 2021 and a five-year average of 56. The highest number of cases have occurred among those 1-4 years old.
RSV symptoms are similar to those of the common cold and often mild in nature, but in rare instances the virus can cause more severe symptoms, especially in young children. If your child develops difficulty breathing, grunting, and nasal flaring, seek health care immediately. Other common symptoms include runny nose, decreased appetite, coughing, sneezing, fever, and wheezing. In very young infants with RSV, the only symptoms may be irritability, decreased activity, and difficulty breathing.
Symptoms generally appear in stages rather than all at once. Most cases will go away on their own within a week or two. There is no specific treatment for RSV, but here are steps you can take to relieve symptoms:
- Manage fever and pain with over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Important: 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 healthcare provider before giving your child non-prescription cold medicines. Some medicines contain ingredients that are not good for children.
You can stay up-to-date on influenza and RSV activity in Arizona throughout the season by viewing our weekly reports on the ADHS website, and subscribing to our influenza and RSV report. More information about RSV is available at CDC.gov/RSV.