Srinagar, Oct 18: Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is affecting both young and elderly populations in Kashmir, leading many to seek medical attention in hospitals.
RSV, a common cause of respiratory tract infections in infants and young children, often comes with symptoms similar to those of a common cold.
Dr Nisar Ul Hassan, an influenza expert and President of the Doctors Association of Kashmir (DAK), informed the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) that the respiratory flu season in Kashmir typically begins in October. He said this year, there is a triple virus threat consisting of RSV, influenza, and Covid-19, with Covid-19 having become a seasonal virus.
“Symptoms of RSV include a stuffy or runny nose, persistent coughing for up to three weeks, and noisy breathing, sometimes accompanied by a low-grade fever. While it usually results in mild respiratory infections in young children, in some cases, it can lead to more severe complications,” he said.
Comparing this year’s situation to the previous year, Dr Nisar said that RSV cases are emerging earlier than usual, and primarily affects the younger population. He said some patients have developed severe pneumonia, which requires intensive care and ventilator support.
Elderly individuals are also contracting RSV, leading to pneumonia, although their symptoms tend to be milder, he added.
The DAK president further said that RSV is common during this season, and there is a concurrent threat of influenza viruses such as H1N1 and H3N2, alongside the possibility of another wave of COVID-19.
He urged people to get vaccinated and take precautions, such as consulting a doctor if experiencing breathing difficulties, staying home when sick, avoiding gatherings, and maintaining personal hygiene.
“Winter provides a favourable environment for respiratory viruses due to the cold weather,” Dr Hassan added.
A doctor from Children’s Hospital Bemina told KNO that the number of patients with respiratory viruses has been increasing since October. Although there is no need to panic, he advised people to remain cautious.
“This year, there have also been more reported cases of mumps among children compared to previous years,” he added.
The doctor also mentioned mumps saying it is a highly contagious viral illness which causes swelling in the throat and jaw.
He said Respiratory Syncytial Virus can exacerbate respiratory conditions in patients already suffering from respiratory ailments. They must take extra precautions, especially in the cold morning hours, to avoid exposure, he said.
While vaccines for RSV are available in certain areas, people are advised to continue taking precautions until a widely accessible vaccine becomes available here, the doctor said.
According to medical professionals, influenza vaccines and updated COVID-19 vaccines are already available and can significantly reduce hospitalisations and deaths caused by these viruses—(KNO)