The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory this week, as a respiratory virus sweeps across the South.

Cases of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, are on the rise, leading to the CDC's warning. The agency is warning healthcare providers to be on the lookout for the virus.

Here's what you need to know, mama:


What is RSV?

RSV is a virus that causes colds and upper and lower respiratory infections. It's the most common cause of bronchitis and pneumonia in children under one year of age, according to the CDC. Infants, young children and older adults with chronic health conditions are most at risk of severe disease from an RSV infection.

RSV infections are most common during the fall and winter seasons, like the flu. Health officials say it didn't circulate like usual this past winter. It's possible that social distancing and masking played a part in the decreased activity.

Because we didn't see typical levels of RSV this winter, CDC officials say that "older infants and toddlers might now be at an increased risk of severe RSV-associated illness since they have likely not had typical levels of exposure to RSV during the past 15 months."

How is it spread?

RSV is spread like most other respiratory diseases—by small droplets and on contaminated surfaces.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says that infants younger than six months may show signs of irritability, decreased activity or appetite, and apnea (pauses while breathing.)

In older children or adults, be on the lookout for runny noses, a decrease in appetite, coughing, headache, fatigue, and fever.

In most cases, RSV presents like a minor illness. However, it can be dangerous.

"Each year in the United States, RSV leads to on average approximately 58,000 hospitalizations with 100-500 deaths among children younger than 5 years old and 177,000 hospitalizations with 14,000 deaths among adults aged 65 years or older," says the CDC.

Where is RSV spreading right now?

The CDC has noted a spike in RSV cases in the following states:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas

How do I treat RSV?

Unfortunately, the CDC says there's no specific treatment for RSV other than symptom management. Officials say you can manage fever and pain with over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers. Make sure your little one drinks plenty of fluids, too. It's always a good idea to talk to your child's healthcare provider before giving them any medications.