RSV and Influenza: What You Need To Know

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza rates are rising across the nation. Here’s what you need to know about these viruses to help keep you and your family healthy.

RSV and influenza can infect all ages, but may impact infants and small children differently.

Early symptoms of RSV in infants and young children are a runny nose and decreased appetite; a cough develops a few days later. Sneezing, fever, and wheezing may also occur. In infants, parents may notice irritability or decreased activity.

Symptoms of influenza include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, muscle or body aches, tiredness, vomiting, and diarrhea.

They both spread through droplets from secretions, such as a cough or sneeze. You can also pick up the virus from touching a contaminated surface or kissing a child. 

Parents can protect children from RSV and influenza by avoiding close contact with sick people, helping older children wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and encouraging children to avoid touching their face with unwashed hands.  

If you or your loved ones get sick with either virus, treatment is focused on managing the symptoms. The fever is treated with over-the-counter fever reducing medications and hydration. Talk to your healthcare provider for other recommendations, especially with small children. RSV and influenza can cause complications that may require hospitalization. 

There is a preventative antibody treatment for RSV called Synagis. However, it is only for infants who are less than 6 months of age and born prematurely.  Talk to your child’s provider if you think your child may be eligible. 

Children 6 months and older may receive a flu shot.  If a child is between 6 months and 8 years old, they will require two doses, given four weeks apart, the first time they receive their flu shot.  If there are children in the home less than 6 months old, others in the home are encouraged to be vaccinated to protect the infant. 

JCHC Clinics is here to care for your entire family. If you are under the weather, make an appointment by calling 641-472-4156.