DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) -- Respiratory syncytial virus (also known as RSV) is seeing a spike in cases in some central Illinois hospitals.
"Typically from December to February is our RSV season we would call in the business," Dr. Virginia Dolan, the Director of Performance Improvement at Memorial System said.
RSV is normally found in infants and young children during the winter time, but the virus is making its presence known in the summer.
"It's been found that we are seeing more cases when we normally wouldn't see any -- and it's been proof for our labs in central Illinois as well as St. Louis Children's hospital is also reporting the same," Dolan said.
Dolan believes mask wearing could be the reason why cases of RSV were down this past winter - and the spike in cases now a result of more in-person gatherings.
"You get RSV by respiratory droplets so if someone coughs or sneezed onto a surface and then you touched that surface," Dolan said. "It's not traditionally to wear masks around RSV, but it will reduce your chances of getting it so if you're worried about getting it around a small child it's reasonable to wear a mask."
A common symptom of RSV in young children is a runny nose - the infection usually lasts one-to-two weeks, but it could turn into something much worse.
"For some children it will be the beginning of wheezing and it will unmask asthma and then they may have more asthma episodes in the future," Dolan said. "In small babies or babies born pre-maturely it can be a cause of death - so it can be something that serious."
Dolan says most cases of RSV will heal on its own, but proper action needs to be taken if you notice symptoms.
"Treated or not, because there is no cure for it, but just time and there is supportive treatment. Yes, it is highly contagious which is why we see it spread like wildfire every year," Dolan said.
You can learn more about RSV on the CDC's website.