RSV:  What You Need to Know

We have partnered with Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center to bring our readers this information!

Our community is experiencing a surge in pediatric ER visits and hospitalizations due to respiratory illness.  RSV, and other respiratory illness, can be particularly serious for infants and older adults.  Most people recover in a week or two from this highly contagious virus, but it can be particularly serious for infants and older adults.

RSV can lead to the common cold, bronchitis, pneumonia, croup or bronchiolitis, potentially requiring hospitalization. While most of those hospitalized are discharged in a few days, many will require some form of breathing assistance during their stay.

Symptoms and treatment of RSV

Most children will have had RSV by the time they turn 2. Similar to a cold, RSV symptoms may include:

  • Coughing
  • Decreased appetite
  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing

In infants less than 6 months old, symptoms may include irritability, decreased activity, decreased appetite and breathing issues.

To help relieve mild symptoms, you can give your child over-the-counter pain and fever medications, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen. However, since some medications are not recommended for children, talk to your pediatrician before using any nonprescription cold medicines.

When to go to the ER

Immediately head to EIRMC’s Pediatric ER if your child exhibits any of the following symptoms:

  • Dehydration (decrease in wet diapers)
  • Difficult, labored, shallow or rapid breathing
  • High fever
  • Lethargy
  • Skin turning blue (especially lips and fingernails)
  • Unresponsiveness (call 911)

If you are unsure as to whether your baby has RSV, always err on the side of caution and seek medical treatment.  You might also consider calling the free 24/7 Consult-A-Nurse to get further advice.  (208) 497-6167.

EIRMC offers pediatric emergency care in an area of the ER separate from adults. This means children will have less exposure to the sights and sounds of an ER that can sometimes be scary. If your child needs emergency care, EIRMC stands ready to help. To learn more, visit

Preventing RSV

According to the CDC, RSV can survive on softer surfaces (tissues, hands) for shorter amounts of time than on hard surfaces (tables, cribs).

Like a cold, RSV spreads through coughs and sneezes. You are susceptible to spread when you touch an infected surface or come in close contact with an infected person, such as kissing a child’s face. You can reduce the transmission of RSV by:

  • Avoiding close contact with sick people
  • Avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces
  • Covering your mouth when you cough and sneeze
  • Staying home when sick
  • Washing your hands often