RSV infections increasing quickly in Arizona

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RSV infections increasing quickly in Arizona

CREATED Dec. 5, 2012

Reporter: Aaron Brackett

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Respiratory syncytial virus RSV for short can mean lots of discomfort for young ones exposed to the virus, hospitalization is sometimes needed, and in rare cases, the virus can even prove fatal.

Each year, RSV cases spike as more people are spending more time indoors. While anyone can catch the virus, one particular group is at a higher risk of complications.

9OYS sat down with Dr. Mark Brown, a pediatric pulmonary immunology professor at the University of Arizona. He says very young children are at the biggest risk.

"Very young children are affected because the virus likes to live in the very smallest airway in the lung. When that happens, those airways get swollen, much like your nose gets swollen when you have a cold, and it makes it much more difficult to breathe," explained Dr. Brown.

While the virus is around all year, its most prevalent in the winter, and according to the Arizona Department of Health, this year's increase is early.

This year, we have been seeing it a bit earlier, both with RSV and influenza," said Shoana Anderson, an Arizona Department of Public Health Epidemiologist . "We are always monitoring through the season to determine when diseases are going to go up and increase and reach their peak. It looks like its starting a bit early, both flu and RSV

Doctor Brown says the virus is much more prevalent than many people think.

"By the time a child is two years old, virtually 100% of them have had this virus. Its not like chicken pox and some other viruses, this is a virus that you can get repeatedly over time. "ts also a virus that adults get and its very common for adults to be the one to transmit it to the children, although children because they share things so well, especially secretions, transmit it to each other quite easily as well," said Anderson.

According to the Arizona Department of Health, there have been 101 cases reported so far this year which is 30 more than this same time last year.

Doctors say frequent hand washing and cleaning children's toys are good ways to stop the spread of the virus.