UW Health: Testing for RSV is not always necessary

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is an infection we’ve heard a lot about in the past couple of months
Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 6:06 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 1, 2022 at 9:12 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is an infection we’ve heard a lot about in the past couple of months, and while it has left many families with uncomfortable, cold-like symptoms, health officials said testing for the infection is not usually necessary.

Dr. Gregory DeMuri, pediatric infectious disease physician at UW Health said in most cases, testing for RSV is an unnecessary step.

“Unlike COVID where we keep you home for five to ten days or maybe give you an antiviral for flu where we can give you an antiviral, for RSV it’s mostly home remedies,” he said.

Dr. DeMuri did say, however, that there are circumstances when medical care should be sought out. He said the patients who are recommended to get tested are usually the ones who need to be hospitalized.

“If a child has difficulty breathing, trouble getting their air, their chest is heaving, or they’re breathing really fast, they need to go seek medical care at that point right away,” Dr. DeMuri said.

Jennifer Wiegenstein is the mother of one-year-old Luka, who was diagnosed with RSV in November. When Wiegenstein first observed her son’s symptoms, she thought it was a common bug.

“Then it pretty much hit everybody else in the house, so I just, I thought it was just you know, a normal cold, I had no idea it was RSV and how serious it actually is,” she said.

Wiegenstein encourages other families, especially those with infants, to stay vigilant.

“I took him into the clinic and I thought it was just a normal cold, you know, and when we got there his oxygen was pretty low, it was like 89,” she said. “If you got little babies at home, then it’s ten times worse for them; an older kid can blow their nose where a baby can’t get all that stuff out.”

While RSV can be an inconvenient and uncomfortable bug, Dr. DeMuri said most patients recover with few challenges.

“There’s been a lot about RSV lately, and our hospitals are full of it, but on the other hand the flipside of this is most kids do really well with it and so do adults,” Dr. DeMuri said.

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