Virus circulating could be confused for COVID-19, common cold

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ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) — 13-year-old Martha Kelley was babysitting late last month for some of her father’s colleagues. “They have twin boys and…they’re so cute,” she says.

She says one of the kids coughed on her. Martha is fully vaccinated against COVID and was not wearing a mask. “And at the time I’m like, ‘that’s pretty gross but too late to do anything now,'”

The next week, Martha started feeling sick, she thought it was a tough cold, but didn’t rule out COVID-19. “I had a sore throat, I was coughing, I was really congested.”

A trip to the doctor’s office revealed the diagnosis was Respiratory Syncytial Virus. A virus that usually hits the area in the wintertime, and is now spreading in the area. RSV can feel like you’ve got a case of COVID, and medical professionals are asking anyone with some of these symptoms, even if vaccinated, to see a doctor.

Dr. Elizabeth Murray with Golisano Children’s Hospital says RSV has been around a long time. “So this is a germ that causes cold-like symptoms, but really profound mucus,” says Murray. She adds RSV impacts babies and elderly the most.

She says the fact it’s circulating now in the summer is unusual. “This is what fills our hospitals full of patients during the flu during flu season,” she says.

Murray says with COVID symptoms, there’s a huge overlap. “Right now the recommendations, as both are in the community, would be to get tested for COVID if you start to have symptoms.” She also says getting tested now is crucial to detect any COVID variants in the community.

Murray says RSV is a virus, and antibiotics won’t work. She says time and rest are best. Something Martha been doing and she’s still on the mend. 

“I feel good, I have energy and I can do stuff. I’m a little sniffly,” she says smiling.

Currently the CDC says RSV is circulating in the highest numbers right now in the American South.  

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