The RSV Virus is Spreading in Las Vegas: Should You be Concerned?

Nov 07, 2022

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The RSV Virus is Spreading in Las Vegas: Should You be Concerned?

There’s been a recent spike in positive RSV tests in the Las Vegas region. CDC data shows a jump to over 5% of positive PCR tests that began in September and October.

This spike resembles last year’s Vegas RSV data for September, but preliminary information looks like it might be doubling October’s numbers. So is it cause for concern?

Here’s everything you need to know about RSV if you’re living or staying in Las Vegas.

What is RSV?

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a seasonal respiratory virus that resembles the common cold, but can develop into a more serious illness for some people.

Each year, this virus spikes during cold weather months, typically late fall. This cycle, the CDC surveillance noticed that the peak is happening earlier than usual across the country, and hospitals are seeing more patients coming in with RSV.

Symptoms

The symptoms of RSV appear within a week after exposure, and they can include a series of effects lasting one to two weeks, such as:

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Wheezing
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Runny Nose

For infants under one year old, the symptoms can be difficult to identify and can include the following:

  • Irritability
  • Decreased movement
  • Trouble breathing
  • Refusing fluids

Is it dangerous?

For most people, the RSV virus is not dangerous. The immune system naturally takes care of the virus with a one-to-two-week recovery period. Some populations are at a higher risk (babies under the age of one) of developing serious complications, including:

  • Bronchiolitis: Inflamed lung passages
  • Pneumonia: Lung infection

RSV is so common that most children contract and recover from RSV before turning two years old. Having RSV isn’t necessarily a cause for concern—but keep a close eye on the more troubling symptoms involving difficulty breathing and look for signs of dehydration.

Who is at Risk?

Infants, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems or existing breathing problems are at a higher risk when it comes to RSV. Their bodies may struggle more than others to heal from the virus and may require medical intervention.

Here’s a list of specific factors that may also put you or your loved ones at a higher risk of RSV-related complications:

  • Premature birth
  • Under six months old
  • Heart disease
  • Lung disease
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Weakened immune systems
  • Over 65 years old
  • Asthma

If you or someone in your family is at a higher risk of complications from RSV, then follow the precautions in the next section to reduce your chances of exposure. If you have a trip planned to Vegas with your infant, you may want to reschedule until your baby is older and the spike in RSV has passed for the season.

How to Reduce the Spread of RSV

Follow these tips to help reduce the spread of RSV in Las Vegas and elsewhere:

  • Frequent handwashing with soap
  • Stay home when you have cold or flu symptoms
  • Cover your mouth with your shoulder during coughing and sneezing
  • Avoid kissing someone who has cold symptoms
  • Wipe down surfaces like countertops and doorknobs daily
  • Avoid sharing cups, straws, etc.
  • Sanitize mobile devices regularly

If you believe you or your child has RSV, stay home for at least one week after symptoms begin. Schools and daycares tend to spread RSV. People with cold or flu-like symptoms should avoid contact with those who are at a higher risk of complications from RSV until they have recovered.

RSV Testing

RSV testing is available. There are several types of tests that can be used to diagnose the viral infection. Testing is recommended for more vulnerable populations with symptoms who are at a higher risk of developing severe respiratory infections from the virus.

The testing process varies but one method is very similar to Covid-19 testing; using a nasal swab. Another method requires flushing the nose with saline liquid to collect the sample for lab testing.

Treatment for RSV

In most cases, RSV clears up on its own, and no medical intervention is required. There are not currently any vaccines or medications that are used for recovering from RSV.

Here are some natural remedies that help to relieve the symptoms:

  1. Hydrate (try Pedialyte or similar electrolyte drinks)
  2. Over-the-counter pain and fever-reducing medications (acetaminophen)
  3. Avoid cold medicines for children without consulting with your pediatrician

If you need help treating the symptoms and over-the-counter medications are not helping, or you’re not sure about giving your child cold medicine, contact your doctor or pediatrician.

In rare cases, infants or older adults may require treatment in a hospital setting for a few days so that they can get oxygen or IV fluids to help with breathing and hydration while the body recovers. Out of 100 infants under six months old who test positive for RSV, only one or two will require hospitalization.

Getting RSV-Related Symptom Relief and Testing

RSV is a common virus that comes around every year and doesn’t pose much of a problem for most people. However, for some, it can become life-threatening. If you or someone in your family is at a higher risk for RSV-related complications and you’re concerned, there are steps you can take to minimize your exposure.

If you’re having symptoms and would like to get tested for RSV because you or someone you are around frequently is at a high risk for complications, contact My Virtual Physician to set up RSV testing or get medical advice to treat symptoms.

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