Authorities are warning about a cold-like virus that makes breathing difficult. Here's what you need to know.

Old_CNX/ShutterstockThe Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reminding the public about Respiratory Syncytial Virus, an illness that has symptoms similar to the flu, but has potentially more dangerous repercussions if left untreated.
  • The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reminding the public about Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), Fox News reported.
  • The illness that has symptoms similar to the flu, but potentially more dangerous repercussions if left untreated.
  • Young infants and children with chronic illnesses or weakened immune systems are most at-risk for serious illness due to RSV.
  • A vaccination to prevent the spread of RSV does not yet exist, but babies at high-risk can take a series of shots to prevent the contraction of RSV.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning people to be on alert for signs of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), Fox News reported.

The virus, which reaches its peak in the cold winter months, may be mistaken for the flu given their similar symptoms. If left untreated, however, the repercussions can be more dangerous, especially for younger children. According to the CDC,57,000 children under the age of five are sent to the hospital each year for RSV.

Here’s is everything you should know about the virus.

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is spread through the air

RSV is a virus that is spread through the air and contracted through a person’s eyes, nose, or mouth, according to the Mayo Clinic. In fact, due to its airborne nature, most infants will have contracted RSV at some point before they reach 2 years of age, the CDC noted.

CoughAaronAmat/ iStockRSV is a virus that is spread through the air and contracted through a person’s eyes, nose, or mouth, according to the Mayo Clinic.

In most cases, people who contract the illness can fend it off naturally and will feel better after a week or two. The CDC noted, however, that young children and the elderly, especially those with weakened immune systems, may have trouble recovering quickly. In some cases, hospitalisation may be required.

Symptoms of RSV include a runny nose, cough, and trouble breathing

Similarly to a cold or the flu, RSV symptoms include coughing or wheezing, a runny nose, trouble breathing, and a decreased appetite. According to the CDC, RSV “may not be severe when it first starts,” but can become worse as the days progress.


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Infants are most likely to be affected by these symptoms, and the Mayo Clinic reported that a child with RSV may appear more irritable or lethargic than usual. “You may notice your child’s chest muscles and skin pull inward with each breath.”

Fever can also be a symptom of RSV, but not everyone who contracts the disease gets a fever, according to the CDC. If a person has difficulty breathing, a high fever, or a blue colour on the lips, nail beds, or skin, you should see a doctor right away, according to the Mayo Clinic.

A special medicine exists to help people at high-risk for RSV

While the majority of people who contract RSV can heal on their own, the CDC noted that those who have a heightened risk for contracting the disease or becoming very ill from it can take a preventative medicine called palivizumab. The medicine is given through a series of monthly shots during RSV season, which is in the fall, winter, and spring in the United States.

Flu shot baby crying vaccinevia Google Imagespremature babies and children with heart and lung conditions can receive a medicine to prevent RSV.

Palivizumab is reserved for premature babies and children with heart and lung conditions that make them more susceptible to RSV. For anyone else who contracts RSV, the best course of action is rest and staying home to avoid spreading the disease. People with RSV can also take fever reducers like ibuprofen to help with any pain.

Much can be done to help with the recovery process, but a vaccine for preventing RSV does not yet exist. According to the CDC, researchers are working to develop one.

Until a vaccine is created, the best way to prevent RSV and its spread is through thorough handwashing, covering sneezes and coughs, avoiding contact with sick people, and keeping your hands away from your face, according to the CDC.

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