By Linda Kor
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases are on the rise in Arizona and Navajo County is ranked second in the state for the number of reported cases. A summary by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) shows 70 cases of RSV in eight counties as of Nov. 18, a 37 percent increase when compared to the 2011-12 season.
Of the reported cases, 89 percent are children under age five. Maricopa County has reported 29 cases and Navajo County has reported 13, followed by Pinal County with 12 cases.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia in children under one year of age. A person with an RSV infection might cough, sneeze, and have a runny nose, fever and decrease in appetite. Wheezing may also occur. In very young infants, irritability, decreased activity and breathing difficulties may be the only symptoms of infection.
The CDC recommends frequent hand washing and wiping of hard surfaces with soap and water or disinfectant may help stop infection and the spread of RSV. Also, persons with RSV illness should not share cups or eating utensils with others.
People exhibiting cold symptoms should cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, then wash their hands. They should also refrain from kissing high-risk children while they have cold-like symp-toms.
While there is no vaccine for RSV, doctors may prescribe a preventive antibody treatment to those at great-est risk, such as premature infants.
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By Linda Kor