El Dorado, Ark. (KTVE/KARD) — Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), also called human respiratory syncytial virus (hRSV) and human orthopneumovirus, is contagious and causes respiratory tract infections. Infection rates are typically higher during the fall and winter months, but South Arkansas is seeing a rise in cases.

Many people consider RSV as a virus that only effects infants, but our elders are also at risk now. Professionals at the South Arkansas Regional Hospital in El Dorado tell us that adult symptoms can include cough, congestion, sore throat, headache, and fever. Infants can experience irritability, lethargy, poor feeding, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms can last 7 to 14 days, with the most severe appearing around 6 days.

According to an update by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • RSV season, which is typically in fall and winter, is right around the corner.
  • RSV activity has already started to increase in the Southeastern United States.
  • RSV can cause serious illness in infants, young children, and older adults. In fact, RSV is the leading reason that babies are hospitalized in the United States.
  • This year, we are in our strongest position ever with new RSV immunizations available to help protect babies, toddlers, and older adults from severe RSV. Most infants will likely only need protection from either the maternal RSV vaccine or the RSV immunization for babies, and not both.
    • Today, CDC recommended an RSV vaccine for people who are 32-36 weeks pregnant to protect their babies from severe RSV. The vaccine is recommended for seasonal use: in the continental US this generally means September through January. The seasonality of RSV season can vary, so state, local or territorial health departments may recommend different timing for administration for your area.
    • In August 2023, CDC recommended a new RSV immunization called nirsevimab to protect babies and some toddlers from severe RSV during the RSV season.
    • In July 2023, CDC recommended RSV vaccine for adults ages 60 and over, using shared clinical decision-making. This means these individuals should talk to their healthcare provider about whether RSV vaccination is appropriate for them at this time.