Health & Fitness

It seems like the flu, but it’s more dangerous. The CDC has issued a warning to parents

In this file photo from 2002, a Naples father kisses his 4-month-old daughter a week after she received a double-lung transplant at Shands Transplant Center at the University of Florida in Gainesville. The baby, born prematurely, had contracted respiratory syncytial virus, which attacked the mucous membranes and clogged the infant’s air passages.
In this file photo from 2002, a Naples father kisses his 4-month-old daughter a week after she received a double-lung transplant at Shands Transplant Center at the University of Florida in Gainesville. The baby, born prematurely, had contracted respiratory syncytial virus, which attacked the mucous membranes and clogged the infant’s air passages.

Parents may think it’s a cold or even the flu.

But just before the new year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning that parents or guardians of children under the age of 1 ought to monitor symptoms like a runny nose, a decrease in appetite or consumption of liquids, coughing, sneezing, fever or wheezing.

That cold or flu could actually be Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).

RSV usually clears up on its own. But if it hasn’t and the symptoms have persisted — especially if the baby seems dehydrated — the CDC urges parents to contact their pediatrician. RSV could lead to bronchitis and pneumonia in children under the age of 1.

The elderly are also vulnerable to this virus, so they should call their physician under the same circumstances.

There’s no specific treatment for RSV infection, though researchers are working to develop vaccines and medications to fight the virus, the CDC said.

If hospitalization is required, doctors will usually intubate the patient with a breathing tube or a machine to help with breathing.

Here are some precautions you can take now:

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;

Try not to touch your face with unwashed hands;

Cover your mouth when you have to sneeze or cough;

Stay home when you’re sick — your boss and colleagues will appreciate that courtesy in the long run.

What actions—apart from getting vaccinated and taking medicine—can you take to help slow the spread of illnesses like the flu?

Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
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