The early symptoms of RSV mimic the common cold: runny nose, decrease in appetite, and cough that can turn to wheezing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For young infants — those less than six months old — symptoms can also include irritability, decreased activity and appetite, and apnea (pauses while breathing). Children with RSV don't always run a fever.
Parents should call their child's pediatrician if their child does start to run a high fever, their cough gets worse, they're wheezing, or they show signs of dehydration (fewer wet diapers than normal), per Kids Health. If their child has any difficulty breathing or starts to breathe fast, is very drowsy, or has blue lips or fingernails, they should bring them to the emergency room immediately.
There are ways to prevent the spread of RSV, though, including cleaning surfaces and toys often, keeping babies away from large crowds, avoiding kissing the baby if a person has any cold symptoms, and not allowing any smokers around their child, per WebMD. Of course, frequent hand washing is crucial. "Hand hygiene is the single most important thing that we can do to keep ourselves and others safe," Dr. Mallory Davis, an infection preventionist at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, told CNN.