MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Pediatricians and public health officials say a common respiratory disease that most children can easily deal with is spreading earlier than usual in Wisconsin.
The disease, called respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is common in kids under age 2 and usually results in mild symptoms. But it can be severe in infants and older adults.
The symptoms for RSV are similar to that of COVID-19, so officials say testing for COVID-19 is important so children can stay home if needed.
University of Wisconsin Health pediatrician Greg DeMuri told Wisconsin Public Radio that some children are getting both illnesses at once, which can extend recovery time and make it hard to diagnose what is wrong.
“We don’t know if that is worse than just COVID alone or just RSV alone. There’s some inclination it might be, and it certainly complicates the situation,” said DeMuri.
Cases of RSV usually increase in the winter, but in Wisconsin, RSV cases started climbing in July and have going up ever since. The most current Weekly Respiratory Report from the state Department of Health Services says that as of Aug. 21, 1,630 patients had been tested for RSV and 298 were positive.
DeMuri called this an “explosion” of infections and said it surprised doctors and public health officials.
Hand-washing and wiping down surfaces is especially important with RSV since it’s transmitted primarily by touch, DeMuri said.