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COVID-19 vs. RSV: what is the difference?

Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 5:31 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) -In southwest Missouri, pediatricians have seen an uncommon surge in RSV cases in recent weeks. COVID-19 is not the only thing on the rise.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus is commonly found among young children and the elderly. Cases are usually up during flu season when temperatures are cooler.

Many local hospitals are seeing an uptick in RSV cases right now following virtually no cases this past winter.

”We weren’t seeing many at all, it was almost like nothing, compared to what were seeing,” said Dr. Kayce Morton D.O. of Jordan Valley.

Dr. Morton is the pediatric medical director and has seen the effects first hand.

”Now we’re starting to see an up tick in those cases, of RSV and likely its secondary to the fact that we’re not masking now,” said Morton.

Seeing this kind of activity is unheard of this time of year explained Neal DeWoody, an infection prevention coordinator with CoxHealth.

”Typically similar to all the other respiratory illnesses we see a spike in the winter months, fall into winter,” DeWoody said.

RSV is deadly in children under the age of two due to lung development. They have smaller bronchial tubes where the virus attaches, causing inflammation, making it harder to breathe.

”Its a respiratory virus similar to our sars cov-2, which is the one that causes COVID-19,” said DeWoody.

RSV attacks the small bronchial of the lungs and adults have bigger bronchial,” said Morton.

With both on the rise, given their similarities, they can be easily confused.

”They’re both respiratory viruses, they both spread very similarly and easily without masks,” said Morton.” Being able to differentiate the two can be difficult.”

In kids, how an you spot the difference from COVID-19?

”Typically notice our runny nose, cough, cold like symptoms With RSV we see more wheezing than we do with COVID, and that’s normal,” said Morton.

Often such viruses can more easily spread in child settings such as schools and daycare.

”Sometimes they can lay on surfaces and then they touch that surface and touch there nose and mouth. That’s kind of the way of transmission,” said DeWoody. ”As someone who is a parent with a child in daycare. Large settings will increase the likelihood of them getting sick from anything.”

While both are around, fighting one of them goes hand in hand with fighting the other.

”Again they’re very similar methods of transmission, so prevent one and you can prevent the other,” said DeWoody.

”As long as we have COVID outbreaks, and COVID continuing to be a problem you can’t know whether it’s RSV or COVID,” Morton explained. “You just have to watch you kids, watch their symptoms and it means you may need to get them tested more so than not.”

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