The month of October is dedicated to raising awareness around a very common, dangerous, and contagious virus known as Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV. While this seasonal virus may present like the common cold in older children and adults, for seniors, infants, young children, and their families, RSV can be devastating and life-threatening. With no cure for RSV and no established standard of care, engaging in and actively using the #RSVAwareness hashtag to spread RSV resources to parents, healthcare providers, and caregivers is critical in RSV prevention and education.
Fast Facts About RSV
- It is highly contagious, severe, and can live on surfaces for hours at a time.
- Each year an estimated 177,000 older adults are hospitalized and 14,000 of them die in the United States due to RSV infection.
- Older adults are at greater risk than young adults for serious complications from RSV because our immune systems weaken when we are older
What Is RSV?
RSV is a common respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages. RSV is highly contagious, spreading through coughing, sneezing, and contact with contaminated surfaces. Crowded spaces like retirement homes, hospitals, and daycare settings are common places where RSV is picked up.
Time Of Year Commonly Contracted?
RSV is most commonly seen in the late fall, winter, and early spring. RSV season typically begins in October and can last until late March.
Who Is At Risk?
People most frequently associate RSV with the risk it brings to young children, but not many know the high risk it poses for older adults. RSV is the second leading cause of significant respiratory tract illnesses in adults, behind only influenza (flu).
- Older adults, especially those 65 years and older
- Adults with chronic heart or lung disease
- Adults with weakened immune systems
What Symptoms to Watch Out For?
RSV is a virus that is contagious (spread from person to person) and can cause fever, coughing, and other cold-like symptoms. Sometimes RSV can lead to serious respiratory illness. In addition to common cold symptoms like coughing and a runny nose, you may notice wheezing, difficulty breathing, and lethargy as your immune system works hard to fight off the virus.
Preventing RSV: How To Protect Yourself & Others
To help protect yourself and others from an RSV infection, make sure to wash your hands frequently, avoid close contact with ill individuals, and always cover up coughs and sneezes. Make sure to disinfect common items around the house, regularly.
Another great way to make a difference is to join a RSV vaccine research study that will potentially help others in the future. Volunteers are always needed! We have open studies at our three locations in Oklahoma City, Denver, and Little Rock.
Over the month of October, spread awareness about RSV with the #RSVAwareness hashtag on all social media channels to help educate others who may be at risk. Remember, RSV does not discriminate and can have lifelong health complications for those who contract it. Help protect lives, and jump into the conversation with #RSVAwareness.