As RSV cases spike, local doctor gives advice on how to stay healthy and safe

Dr. Suman Shekar from Med Center Health is starting to notice an uptick in RSV cases.
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 6:06 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection or RSV is a viral infection common during the fall and winter, often confused with the flu or common cold because of similar symptoms.

The infection is something that Dr. Suman Shekar from Med Center Health is starting to notice an uptick in.

“One week back we just saw like 2 cases in the clinic and in last week there was an explosion of the number of cases we have been seeing like more than 10 cases,” Dr. Shekar said.

Despite the recent spike in RSV cases, Shekar says there are not as many hospitalizations as expected.

“RSV hospitalizations last year were very high. We had a lot of elderly population, 60 years and older admitted to the home,” Dr. Shekar said. “This year, we have not seen the hospitalizations yet, so that’s what we’re concerned about.”

The infection affects all age groups but becomes severe in infants six months or less and adults 60 years of age or older.

Symptoms include runny nose, fever, headaches, myalgia, body aches, and wheezing.

There is no definitive treatment for RSV but in July, a vaccine was developed for the elderly population.

“We have a new vaccine, which can be given for 60 years and older to prevent RSV infections and to prevent the severity of infection,” Dr. Shekar said.

She also suggested protocols that can be taken for infants experiencing symptoms.

“We give a monoclonal antibody for babies less than six months of age,” she said. “If you hear wheezes, please bring them to the primary care doctors. They can help with breathing treatments and some steroids to help the lung inflammation.”

Dr. Shekar says there are measures that can be taken to prevent the spread of the virus.

“We need to make sure kids or adults who are infected with RSV need to be at home and wash their hands frequently and not touch their eyes and nose,” she says. “Disinfect the surfaces like tables and doorknobs, because the RSV virus lives on these surfaces for ten days.”

More information regarding resources for respiratory illnesses and infections provided at Med Center Health can be found here.