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Protect your babies and grandparents from RSV this season

Hamilton Community Health Network pediatrician says infants and seniors mostly affected

Flint, MI – Hamilton Community Health Network is reminding parents to watch for signs of RSV as flu season begins to kick in. RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) Virus, is a respiratory virus that acts and feels remarkably like the common cold but can cause severe infection in infants and older adults. Each year, RSV leads to approximately 2.1 million outpatient visits to doctor’s offices in children under 5 years old, while nearly 200,000 adults 65 and older are hospitalized each year for RSV.

Maria Bernabe, MD, pediatric provider at Hamilton, says the symptoms of RSV start out similar to that of a cold.

“We often see kids coming in with a runny nose, cough, and fever,” she said. “But with RSV, the infection can become serious very quickly.”

Dr. Bernabe explained an RSV infection can lead to dangerous complications like bronchiolitis and pneumonia, especially in children under 1 year of age. Parents should keep a close eye on their child’s condition and contact their doctor if they begin to have trouble breathing, seem dehydrated or their symptoms worsen over time.

Adults can also contract RSV, with symptoms lasting one to two weeks. For adults, doctors recommend managing the symptoms just like you would a cold. Drink plenty of fluids and rest as much as possible. Over-the-counter cold medications and fever reducers, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, can also help alleviate symptoms. Adults over 65 should talk to their healthcare provider if it feels like their condition is not improving, or they are having trouble breathing.

RSV is contagious and spreads through air droplets, surface contact, and direct contact. Dr. Bernabe suggests practicing the standard ways to avoid spreading the infection:

Help avoid RSV Infection by:

  • Limit close contact with others, do not allow people to kiss or snuggle your infant or young children
  • Do not share cups or utensils
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Avoid touching your and your baby’s face with unwashed hands
  • Limit time your children spend in childcare centers
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, counters and mobile devices

In addition to disinfecting and washing hands often, you can help prevent sickness this year by getting the entire family in for their seasonal flu shot and wellness visits. Give Hamilton a call at (810) 406-4246 to schedule a flu shot and wellness visit for yourself or your child today. While supplies last, children who come in for a wellness exam with Dr. Bernabe at the Hamilton Main Clinic at 2900 S. Saginaw will receive a free backpack.


About Hamilton Community Health Network

Hamilton Community Health Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing comprehensive, quality, community-oriented health care for the underserved throughout Genesee, Lapeer County and surrounding areas. The organization is part of a national network of primary care centers (Section 330E) aimed at improving health services for inner-city populations. These centers provide comprehensive care to patients regardless of their ability to pay. For more information, visit hamiltonchn.org.


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