Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

Doctors and health systems throughout the country are seeing an uptick in cases of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, a viral respiratory illness that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms.

While most people recover from RSV in a week or two, the virus can be serious, especially for infants, adults over the age of 50 and individuals with compromised immune systems.

Symptoms of RSV include runny nose, decreased appetite, coughing, sneezing, fever and wheezing.

 In Berrien County, cases of RSV and other respiratory illnesses have been increasing over the last 10 weeks, with roughly 40 new RSV cases per week. This increase in cases has led to increased occupancy in local hospitals.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Michigan Health and Hospital Association have released the following guidance to help Michiganders get the care they need without contributing to unnecessary crowding in local hospitals:

  • Only seek hospital emergency care if symptoms are worrisome and emergency care is needed. Emergency medical situations can include difficulty breathing, dehydration and worsening symptoms. For mild symptoms or to get tested for RSV or another respiratory illness, contact your primary care provider or nearest urgent care center.  
  • Get vaccinated against respiratory illnesses, including the flu. Visit www.vaccines.gov to search for vaccine availability or call your health care provider or BCHD at 269.926.7121. More information on flu vaccines is available here
  • Be patient if seeking care through a hospital emergency department. Wait times may be elevated as respiratory illnesses reach seasonal peak levels.
  • Consider having your children wear a mask in public places, including school, when you know local case rates of respiratory illnesses are high.
  • Practice frequent and proper hand washing and stay home if you’re not feeling well.
  • For mild cold-like symptoms, it is not necessary to get tested for RSV. Take proper hand-washing measures and stay home until you are feeling better; be extra careful to avoid contact with babies, adults over the age of 50 and individuals with compromised immune systems until you recover

More information on RSV can be found from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.