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WISCONSIN RAPIDS, WI (OnFocus) – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a major cause of respiratory illness in all age groups.

RSV cases have been steadily increasing in Wisconsin. Older adults as well as infants and young children are most likely to get serious complications if they get sick with RSV.

“Among infants and young children, RSV is the most common cause of bronchitis, croup, ear infections, and pneumonia,” said Dr. Amy Falk, pediatrician with Aspirus Doctors Clinic in Wisconsin Rapids. “Older adults are at greater risk than young adults for serious complications from RSV because our immune systems weakens as we age.”

The CDC estimates that each year in the United States, an estimated 58,000-80,000 children younger than 5 years old and 60,000-120,000 older adults are hospitalized due to RSV infection.

Those at greatest risk for severe illness from RSV include:

  • Premature infants
  • Infants, especially those 6 months and younger
  • Children younger than 2 years old with chronic lung disease or congenital heart disease
  • Children with weakened immune systems
  • Children who have neuromuscular disorders, including those who have difficulty swallowing or clearing mucus secretions
  • Older adults, especially those 65 years and older
  • Adults with chronic heart or lung disease
  • Adults with weakened immune systems

“Early symptoms of RSV may not be severe when it first starts, however it can become more severe a few days into the illness,” said Dr. Falk.

Early symptoms of RSV may include a runny nose, a decrease in appetite, and a cough which may progress to wheezing or difficulty breathing.

”RSV season in most regions of the U.S. starts in the fall and peaks in the winter,” said Dr. Falk. “If you have contact with an older adult, young child, or infant – especially those who were born prematurely, have chronic lung or heart disease, or a weakened immune system – you should take extra care to keep healthy.”

Ways to help avoid the spread of RSV include:

• Wash your hands often

• Avoid touching your face

• Avoid close contact with sick people

• Cover your coughs and sneezes

• Clean and disinfect surfaces

• Stay home when you are sick.

There is no vaccine to prevent RSV infection yet, but scientists are working hard to develop one. If you are concerned about your risk for RSV, talk with your medical provider.

To schedule an appointment for your child with Dr. Falk, call Aspirus Doctors Clinic at 715-423-0122. To learn about all Aspirus Health’s clinics and medical providers, visit

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