Local health officials see increased RSV cases in children


NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Across the country, more children’s hospitals are seeing a spike in a common respiratory illness called RSV.

New Hanover County Health and Human Services and a doctor with Novant Health say there has also been an increased reported cases of flu among children, but parents need to also be aware of RSV which can have concerning lingering effects.

Novant Health Pediatric physician  Dr. Amra Zuzo says she has seen a steady flow of patients coming in with mostly colds and the flu, but in the last week and a half. Novant Health clinics have seen a significant uptick in RSV, also known as Respiratory Syncytial Virus cases.

RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Dr. Zuzo says they have also seen an increase in the number of complications that occur two weeks after an RSV infection, like younger children getting pneumonia.

Dr. Zuzo is offering tips to parents on RSV symptoms to be on the lookout for in children.

“Persisting cough that’s interrupting sleep, wheezing, trouble breathing. So often times we’ll show them which muscles to look at. So, you always want to raise your child’s shirt and look at their chest to make sure that they’re not breathing too fast. Sometimes you can even see nasal flarings,” said Dr. Amra Zuzo, Novant Health Pediatric physician.

People infected with RSV are said to be contagious for three to eight days. babies and older people with weakened immune systems can spread RSV for up to four weeks.

New Hanover County Assistant Health Director Carla Turner says people can also have r-s-v and the flu at the same time.

“They’re different viruses, but you can be infected if you are exposed, and if you think about it if you have one and your immune system’s kind of down a little bit fighting that, and you’re exposed to something else, you may very well become infected with that as well,” said Carla Turner, New Hanover County’s assistant health director.

She also says there has been an uptick in sick absences at New Hanover County Schools. New Hanover County Health and Human Services has a nurse at each school, who are tracking the absences and symptoms.

“So with these schools that we’ve had some increased absences part of our responsibility is as public health nurses, is to follow up on that, and so those school nurses along with some of our communicable disease staff here, to see if they’re sick and if they’re sick what are their symptoms, and have they been to the doctor and have they been tested, and then we keep a lined list of all that. So, we can keep track of what’s going on, and we’re constantly communicating with the state if we see increased numbers at schools,” said Turner.

There is no vaccine for RSV, but treatment methods include clearing mucus from airways, nasal saline sprays, and breathing treatments. Health officials are also advising people to get their flu shots.


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