LEONARDTOWN, Md. – The St. Mary’s County Health Department is issuing this local public health advisory about unusually increased respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) activity across the state of Maryland. RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms and most people recover on their own within a week or two. However, RSV can be serious, especially for infants, young children and older adults. RSV can lead to lung inflammation and infection, and cause difficulty breathing.

People infected with RSV usually show symptoms within 4-6 days after infection. Symptoms of RSV usually include:
• Runny nose
• Decrease in appetite
• Coughing
• Sneezing
• Fever
• Wheezing

These symptoms may appear in stages. Young infants in particular may show symptoms of increased irritability, decreased activity and breathing difficulties.

“The current and expected strain on area hospitals and our health care system due to COVID-19, flu, and RSV makes it even more important for people to take precautions to help prevent the spread of these infectious viruses,” said Dr. Meena Brewster, St. Mary’s County Health Officer. “Please make sure you and your age-eligible children are vaccinated for COVID-19 and seasonal flu. Speak to your healthcare clinician if you are concerned about you or your child having COVID-19, flu, or RSV. Testing and treatment are available for all three of these viruses. Protect yourself and others by getting vaccinated, masking, washing hands frequently, and staying home when you are feeling sick.”

People at highest risk for severe RSV disease include:
• Premature infants
• Young children with congenital (from birth) heart or chronic lung disease
• Young children with weakened immune systems due to a medical condition or medical treatment
• Adults with compromised immune systems
• Older adults, especially those with underlying heart or lung disease
The best way to prevent RSV is by avoiding close contact with sick people, washing hands often, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and mobile devices.

For more information about RSV, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov/rsv/index.html.