The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) recently issued a warning for a high number of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases this season. According to the NICD, RSV “is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and lower respiratory tract illness (LRTI) among young children.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines RSV as “a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms.”
They also warn, “Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults.”As at 19 April 2023, the NICD has detected 472 cases of RSV in South Africa. An increase in cases was identified in early February 2023, with very high levels in mid-March and moderate levels in April. RSV cases have been high in children five years and younger.
TransmissionMuch like influenza (flu) and COVID-19, RSV can be spread easily through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. You can also become infected if you touch a surface contaminated with the virus and then touchyour face before washing your hands. The virus can contaminate a hard surface for hours. Also, avoid kissing an RSV patient on the face.
Symptoms
The symptoms of RSV are similar to those of flu:
  • runny nose
  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • fever
  • decreased appetite

Prevent RSV
Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and throw used tissues in the bin. Also,wash or sanitise your hands regularly to prevent RSV. Masks and social distancing, as with COVID-19, also help to prevent the spread RSV.
How to manage RSV
There is no cure for RSV, but it is important to manage and treat the symptoms. Make sure that your child drinks plenty of water, and talk to your doctor for the best medicine to manage your child’s pain and fever. Bestmed members can find their nearest healthcare provider here.
References
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2022. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Available [Online]: https://www.cdc.gov/rsv/index.html.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2022. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV): Prevention. Available [Online]: https://www.cdc.gov/rsv/about/prevention.html.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2022. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV): Symptoms and care. Available [Online]: https://www.cdc.gov/rsv/about/symptoms.html.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2022. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV): Transmission. Available [Online]: https://www.cdc.gov/rsv/about/transmission.html.
National Institute for Communicable Diseases. 2023 (a). Alert to clinicians – 2023 respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) season has started. Available [Online]: https://www.nicd.ac.za/alert-to-clinicians-2023-respiratory-syncytial-virus-rsv-season-has-started/.
National Institute for Communicable Diseases. 2023 (b). Weekly respiratory pathogens surveillance report. Available [Online]: https://www.nicd.ac.za/diseases-a-z-index/disease-index-covid-19/surveillance-reports/weekly-respiratory-pathogens-surveillance-report-week/.