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What do I need to know about RSV?

What do I need to know about RSV?

RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) is a contagious virus that infects the lungs and airways.

While outbreaks eased off when COVID-19 restrictions were in place, it’s now seeing a resurgence.

Below, we explain what you need to know about this virus and how you can protect yourself from infection.

Who is at risk from RSV?

Children under five years of age are most affected by RSV. And if you’re wondering, "Can adults get RSV infection?" the answer is yes.

Elderly adults and those who have conditions affecting their immune system, heart or lungs are at greater risk of severe infection and having to go to hospital.

RSV infection symptoms

One of the first symptoms you may notice with RSV is a fever, so keep track of the affected person’s temperature with a reliable thermometer.

You may also notice the following:

  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Ear infection

Young children may experience more serious symptoms related to RSV, including bronchiolitis, a chest infection that can involve wheezing and rapid breathing.

And if they already have asthma, associated symptoms may get worse if they have RSV.

It’s also possible that someone with RSV may develop pneumonia. This is when the tissue in your lungs becomes inflamed, due to a bacterial infection or virus. Symptoms of pneumonia include chest pain and difficulty breathing. In some cases, the patient may need to be treated in hospital.

How is RSV spread?

Like many infections, RSV can be spread through droplets that people release when they talk, sneeze or cough.

If you are nearby, you may breathe in the droplets and become infected.

You can also catch RSV by hand-to-hand contact or if you touch items that have mucus on them from an infected person (think dirty tissues or anything the infected person has touched between blowing their nose and washing their hands).

It’s also possible to get infected with RSV after touching surfaces like door knobs and light switches that have been handled by an infected person.

Know that RSV survives longer on these hard surfaces than on soft ones like hands and tissues.

How is RSV diagnosed?

RSV is diagnosed through tests on your blood or mucus. Your doctor may also check your oxygen levels.

In more severe cases, your doctor may order tests like X-rays or CT scans to check your lungs.

What’s the treatment for RSV?

Fortunately, most RSV cases are mild, and you can treat the patient at home. The key to recovery is to get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids.

You can offer paracetamol for fever but take care never to give aspirin to children under the age of 12.

You should also know that antibiotics don’t work for RSV as it’s caused by a virus.

Most people take from eight to 15 days to recover at home. Some RSV patients may need to be treated in hospital, particularly if they are elderly, younger than six months old or have existing conditions like asthma or are immunocompromised.

What can I do to prevent RSV infection?

In most parts of Australia, outbreaks tend to occur during autumn and winter, with a peak during June and July.

In more tropical areas, RSV is more active in the rainy season from December to March.

These are the times when you need to be more vigilant about preventing RSV infection.

You should also know that you can get RSV infection even if you’ve had it before, even during the same season.

You can reduce the risk of spreading or getting RSV by:

  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water
  • Using hand sanitiser in between hand-washing
  • Using sanitiser spray on surfaces around the home
  • Isolating infected people as far as possible
  • Not sharing kitchen utensils like glasses, cups and cutlery with anyone who has a cold or suspected infection
  • Catching coughs and sneezes on the inside of your elbow
  • Disposing of used tissues immediately

Putting your family’s health first!

While it’s great news that COVID-19 restrictions have eased around the country, this does mean that other infections like RSV may now spread more easily.

But by being vigilant about your and your family’s health and practising good hygiene, you can reduce your chances of getting RSV and other diseases.

You can find out more about RSV on the healthdirect website as well as take proactive steps to protect your health and wellbeing.

So check out the complete range of FeverMates products — all designed to put your and your family’s health first!

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