Respiratory syncytial virus, also called human respiratory syncytial virus and human orthopneumovirus, is a common, contagious virus that causes infections of the respiratory tract. It is a negative-sense, single-stranded RNA virus.
In Mexico, the National Committee for Epidemiological Surveillance reports an increase in cases of respiratory viruses between epidemiological weeks 40 and 45. Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is the one that reports the greatest increase.
Six out of every 10 cases (63.1 percent) of confirmed cases of respiratory viruses in the country are RSV, according to the figures reported in the Epidemiological Notice dated November 15.
“The total number of confirmed cases of OVR (Other Respiratory Viruses) is 456, 63 percent (n= 288) corresponds to RSV.” The age groups that report the highest number of cases are:
- From 1 to 4 years
- Less than 1 year old, and
- From 5 to 9 years old.
In addition, the two entities with the highest number of people positive for RSV and hospitalized are CDMX and the State of Mexico.
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As if that were not enough, the alert for an increase in respiratory virus cases from the health authorities in Mexico indicates: “The total number of hospitalized cases due to RVO corresponds to 425, of which 64% (n= 271) were due to RSV ”.
Given the alert due to the increase in cases of respiratory virus in Mexico, it is worth knowing what respiratory syncytial virus is and what the symptoms of RSV are.
What is respiratory syncytial virus or RSV?
The Epidemiological Notice establishes that respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is an RNA virus of the Paramyxoviridae family, Pneumoviridae subfamily and the Pneumovirus genus, which is divided into two antigenic groups A and B that generally co-circulate.
According to health authorities, RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms and is the most common viral cause of bronchiolitis, pneumonia, and lower respiratory tract infection and hospitalization in infants worldwide.
This type of virus has an incubation period of four to six days after being infected. Additionally, people can become contagious a day or two before they start showing signs of the illness.
The disease is highly contagious because infants or elderly people with weakened immune systems can continue to spread the virus even after they stop showing symptoms and for up to four weeks.
What are the symptoms of RSV?
The most common symptoms of respiratory syncytial virus are:
- Rhinorrhea or runny nose due to excess fluid flowing through the nose
- Poor appetite
Fever (although not all patients have it)
- According to specialists, these symptoms often appear in phases and not all at the same time.
Respiratory syncytial virus in babies
Parents and guardians should pay attention to babies since RSV symptoms in babies six months or younger can manifest as:
- Reduced activity
- Difficulty breathing
- Reduced fluid and food intake, and
How is RSV spread?
As it is a respiratory virus, the contact routes are similar to those of COVID-19.
The Epidemiological Notice details that the respiratory syncytial virus is transmitted from person to person, through respiratory droplets. Another way of infection may be through contact with hands or objects contaminated with respiratory secretions from the sick person.
Recommendations against RSV
Mexican health authorities issued a series of recommendations to prevent the spread of RSV during the winter season in Mexico, when respiratory diseases increase.
These are the recommendations against RSV:
- Anyone with symptoms should stay home.
- Promote ventilation of closed spaces.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your forearm, as we did during the COVID-19 pandemic, and never protect yourself with your hands.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your face without first washing your hands.
- Avoid close contact with other people. This includes kissing, shaking hands, sharing glasses, and eating utensils.
Frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles and mobile devices, should be cleaned constantly.