Intermountain Healthcare

Is It Just a Cold? Should I Worry About RSV? Respiratory Infections on the Rise, According to Intermountain Healthcare


Salt Lake City, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 01/07/2020 --Cold and flu season is upon us, and Utah is seeing the rising tide of seasonal respiratory pathogens, including Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, according to Intermountain Healthcare providers. Specific to RSV, many parts of the state are experiencing moderate to high levels of activity, according to Intermountain's GermWatch.

"RSV is an incredibly common respiratory virus that in most cases, causes mild common cold symptoms. Some people can have the infection and have no symptoms at all." said Gary Bosshardt, MD, pediatrician at the Intermountain Sunset Clinic. "If symptomatic, most healthy individuals recover in approximately a week, but for young children and older adults the infection or its complications can be serious. Infants, children, and even older adults who have a condition affecting their lungs, heart or immune system are especially at risk. Infants under one year of age, particularly those with a history of prematurity, are among those with the highest risks."

Dr. Bosshardt explained that while many infants and young children get colds affecting their nose and mouth that will resolve in 3-7 days and not require intervention, RSV has a higher chance of progressing down deep into the lungs and causing bronchiolitis or pneumonia.

"Since RSV and other causes of the common cold are viral infections, antibiotics won't help," said Dr. Bosshardt. "For infants greater than 90 days old, children and teenagers with simple cough/congestion with or without mild intermittent fevers of 100.4-103 F, most may be treated for symptoms at home for that three- to seven-day period. Fevers that are persistent for more than three days or single fevers of 104 F or greater should be evaluated by a healthcare provider. These same infants and young children who have difficulty breastfeeding or bottle feeding, are significantly fussy/inactive/sleepy, or wheezing, should see a healthcare provider as soon as possible."

"If any pediatric patient develops fast breathing or breathing that uses muscles above or below the rib cage, they should see a healthcare provider immediately which in many cases may be the ER," Dr. Bosshardt said. "Infants under 90 days of age, if ever with a fever of 100.4 F or greater, should always be evaluated right away by a healthcare provider. Every child is unique and general healthcare advice may not always be applicable, ask your own doctor if you are concerned. Err on the side of caution and seek care early before a medical urgency becomes an emergency."

Dr. Bosshardt suggested that using a humidifier, saline drops and suctioning nasal secretions with a bulb syringe or nasal aspirator device is a good way to help with symptoms. Increasing fluid intake can help, as well as giving your child an age appropriate dose of non-aspirin pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Aspirin should be avoided as it is linked to Reye syndrome.

To prevent spreading germs, good hand washing hygiene is always important. Disinfecting toys, counter tops, doorknobs, and other surfaces can also help you reduce the chance of spreading disease to others. Anytime a child or adult has a fever they should stay home from school and other activities.

"If you have a child at risk, you might consider limiting your social exposure for a while by not going places where there are a lot of people in close quarters," said Dr. Bosshardt. Individuals can commonly spread the virus a few days before symptoms, and up to a week after symptoms appear.

If you are concerned but don't want to take your child out into the winter weather – or you have other children you don't want to take into the doctor's office – Intermountain Connect Care is a video visit with a caregiver that costs $59 and is covered by many insurances. You can download the app at

About Intermountain Healthcare
Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 215 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,500 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs. For more information, see