RSV making the rounds this winter

While it's the spread of flu that grabs headlines during the cold season, similar symptoms can present (and easily spread) in another very common winter ailment.

Respiratory syncytial virus, commonly referred to as RSV, is a viral infection of the lungs and breathing passages (upper respiratory tract), and has become a common diagnosis in the McLaren Lapeer Region emergency department.

"Upper respiratory infections-we've been seeing a lot of it," said Dr. Joseph Zajchowski, an emergency medicine physician at McLaren Lapeer Region. "It presents similar to the flu, with runny noses, cough, and fever. If you start to see these symptoms in yourself, get in to see a physician as soon as you can."

Additional symptoms include loss of appetite and sneezing, typically presenting four to six days after exposure.

If left untreated, RSV can lead to bronchiolitis (an inflammation of the bronchioles, the small airways of the lungs) and pneumonia in children under the age of 1, potentially becoming serious.

"Best to get them to an emergency room or physician as soon as possible to begin any necessary treatments," Dr. Zajchowski said. "Children and older adults are particularly susceptible, making preventative measures all the more important."

For preventative measures, especially during the current spread of RSV, Dr. Zajchowski recommends minimal contact with those showing symptoms (including keeping kids at home until they are fully recovered), avoidance of sharing any food or drink and very frequent handwashing. 

Should you or a loved one start to exhibit symptoms of RSV, make an appointment with a physician immediately or head to your nearest emergency department. Learn more about McLaren Lapeer Region emergency services at