Single cases of RSV are not reportable in Texas.
Respiratory syncytial virus
RSV is often introduced into the home by school-aged children who are infected with RSV and have a mild upper respiratory tract infection. Persons infected with RSV can spread the virus when they sneeze or cough. Droplets generated from these activities may cause infection when they are inhaled by another person, or when they come into contact with another person’s nose, mouth, or eyes.
Infection can also result from direct and indirect contact with nasal or oral secretions from infected persons, such as kissing an infected child’s face or touching a common surface (e.g., a doorknob) on which viruses have been deposited.
In adults and children older than 3 years, typical RSV symptoms include a low-grade fever, runny nose, cough, and occasionally wheezing. In children younger than age 3, RSV can cause a lower respiratory tract illness such as bronchiolitis or pneumonia; more severe cases can result in respiratory failure. Symptoms may include a worsening croupy cough, unusually rapid breathing, difficulty breathing, and a bluish color of the lips or fingernails caused by low levels of oxygen in the blood. RSV can cause middle ear infections (otitis media) in preschool children. Many persons with RSV infection show no symptoms.
The majority of children hospitalized for an RSV infection are under the age of six months. The elderly, premature infants, persons with chronic lung or heart problems, and persons with weak immune systems are at higher risk for developing serious illness. Those who are exposed to tobacco smoke, attend daycare, live in crowded conditions, or have school-aged siblings could also be at higher risk.
Treatment & Prevention
A drug called palivizumab is available to prevent severe RSV illness in certain infants and children who are at high risk. The drug can help prevent development of serious RSV disease, but it cannot prevent infection with RSV or help cure or treat children already suffering from serious RSV disease. There is no vaccine to prevent RSV.
Covering coughs and sneezes, practicing frequent hand washing, and disinfecting surfaces may help stop the spread of RSV. Persons with RSV illness should not share cups or eating utensils with others, and persons with cold-like symptoms should not interact with high-risk children. When possible, limiting the time that high-risk children spend in child-care centers or other potentially contagious settings may help prevent infection and spread of the virus during the RSV season.
Recent Texas Trends
RSV activity typically begins to increase in Texas in September or October and peaks in December or January. The timing of the RSV season and the seasonal peaks can vary by region in Texas. For surveillance reports see the Data link.