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RSV cases on the rise in Kentucky, Indiana

Healthcare providers say many of their patients think they have COVID-19 because of their symptoms, but they test positive for RSV instead.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Cases of Respiratory Synctial Virus (RSV) are on the rise in Kentucky and Indiana. Even though it causes mild symptoms in most people, it can be dangerous for babies and older adults.

RSV has many symptoms in common with COVID-19 including cough and fever. Healthcare providers say many of their patients think they have COVID-19 because of their symptoms, but they test positive for RSV instead.

Other symptoms include a runny nose, irritability and a loss of appetite.

The CDC is reporting a large spike of RSV cases in both Kentucky and Indiana during the spring and summer. A doctor in Indianapolis said Riley Children's Hospital is seeing up to five pediatric cases a day.

RELATED: Spike in RSV cases in Indiana has hospitals taking precautions

What's unusual about the rise in cases is the timing - RSV cases usually appear more often in the fall and winter.

So, what's causing the spike? Health officials say the precautions we took during the coronavirus pandemic - wearing masks and social distancing - prevented the spread of RSV as well as COVID-19.

Now that we're getting back to "normal" life, the virus has more opportunities to infect more people.

Credit: CDC, stock.adobe.com

There is no vaccine for RSV and no specific treatment. While most people infected with RSV will just suffer mild cold-like symptoms, the virus is the most common cause for pneumonia in babies less than one year old.

The best thing to do to prevent RSV is to wash your hands frequently and stay home if you feel sick.

Contact reporter Rob Harris atrjharris@whas11.com. Follow him onTwitter (@robharristv) andFacebook

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