General Health & Wellness • Sep 02, 2014

Parents beware – rhinovirus is here with force!

Little girl blows her noseRhinovirus has hit St. Louis early this year, and it’s hit us hard.  Rhinovirus causes the common cold– a runny nose, sore throat, and sometimes fever, abdominal pain, and muscle aches.  We usually see a surge of patients with rhinovirus each fall, shortly after school starts, but this year the virus has hit early and hit hard.

Because the test for rhinovirus is expensive, we avoid testing patients unless the test will change our medical management of the patient.  But among the few patients we have tested, cases are higher right now compared to the past few years.

Most patients just have common cold symptoms, and recover without treatment.  But people with asthma or problems with their immune system can become quite ill if they get rhinovirus.  We don’t have any curative treatment for rhinovirus, but we can treat asthma until the body recovers from the virus.

Rhinovirus is similar to another virus called enterovirus, and it’s hard to tell the difference between them even by lab tests.  But according to the CDC, rhinovirus is usually responsible for the spike of the common cold in the fall.

Chris Nagus of KMOV, Channel 4, asked me to tell him more about Rhinovirus:

Rhinovirus is contagious and easily spread both by airborne droplets from coughing and sneezing and also from contaminated surfaces, such as door knobs and switches.   Here’s the good news: it is easily killed by handwashing and hand sanitizer.

Most cases of rhinovirus are just a cold, and recover easily at home without prescription medications.  But rhinovirus symptoms can mimic strep throat, an illness treated with antibiotics.  If your child is having a fever and sore throat, call or see your pediatrician.

Not sure if your child needs to be seen by a physician?  Our nurses at St. Louis Children’s Hospital are happy to speak with you, 24 hours a day, at 314-454-KIDS.

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