Ochsner Pediatricians Say Testing for RSV Usually Not Necessary

Local reports indicate a rise in RSV, a respiratory infection that causes cold-like symptoms and which can be serious among young children. However, Ochsner Baton Rouge pediatricians say testing for RSV is usually not necessary.

“Parents are telling me that daycares are seeing a lot of RSV,” said Truc Dinh, Dr., a general pediatrician at Ochsner Health Center - Bluebonnet South. “We typically don’t test for RSV because it doesn’t change how we treat the symptoms. In either case, treatment is the same, so it’s not always necessary to put the child through the test.”

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, typically causes symptoms similar to a mild cold – runny nose, coughing, sneezing, and fever, among others. Just like a cold, RSV is highly contagious. The Centers for Disease Control says nearly all children have at least one RSV infection by the age of two.

While most children recover from RSV in a week or two, the condition can be serious for infants and older adults. The CDC says that while researchers are working to develop vaccines, there is no specific treatment for RSV infection. More information about RSV is available on the CDC website.

Dinh said that some parents have asked for RSV tests because daycares require them for sick children to return. However, a negative test result doesn’t mean that parents should bring sick children back to daycare.

“If parents want a test, we’ll certainly do it. But whether it’s a cold or RSV, our care recommendations are the same – children should stay home to prevent the infection from spreading, get lots of rest, and drink plenty of fluids.”

Dinh also cautioned parents to talk to doctors before giving their children nonprescription cold medicines. Some of these products may contain ingredients that are not good for children.