The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising people in Kentucky and states to the south to look out for a respiratory illness that is spreading in the region.
The disease is inter-seasonal respiratory syncytial virus. RSV cases have been reported in Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and the Carolinas.
“Infants, young children, and older adults with chronic medical conditions are at risk of severe disease from RSV infection,” the CDC said in an official health advisory Thursday. “Each year in the United States, RSV leads to on average approximately 58,000 hospitalizations with 100 to 500 deaths among children younger than 5 years old and 177,000 hospitalizations with 14,000 deaths among adults aged 65 years or older.”
RSV was suppressed last winter, due to precautions taken to thwart the coronavirus, so “older infants and toddlers might now be at increased risk of severe RSV-associated illness since they have likely not had typical levels of exposure to RSV during the past 15 months,” the CDC warns. “In infants younger than six months, RSV infection may result in symptoms of irritability, poor feeding, lethargy, and/or apnea with or without fever.”
Older children may have runny nose and decreased appetite, followed by cough, often followed by sneezing, fever, and sometimes wheezing, CDC says. Symptoms in adults are much like those caused by common cold viruses, and there is no specific treatment other than management of symptoms.