Which Respiratory Virus Do I Have?

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It started with a tickle in the throat. Then it develops into congestion and you may cough a little. She may have lost her voice.

A low-grade fever may have been cured with ibuprofen, but I’ve never felt sick enough to stay in bed all day.

So which respiratory virus was invading your cells?

There are several types of viruses that can cause it. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza, parainfluenza virus, metapneumovirus, rhinovirus, coronavirus, enterovirus, and adenovirus are the most common.

However, most people who get infected probably never know who has boosted their immune system.

said Paul Offitt, M.D., Ph.D., Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “There’s really no way to tell them apart unless you test them.”

If you are not hospitalized, you cannot be tested.Typical Quest Diagnostics Respiratory PanelExamples include adenoviruses, influenza, parainfluenza, rhinoviruses, enteroviruses, metapneumoviruses, and RSV.

“Normally, what you see at Philadelphia Children’s Hospital in the winter is respiratory syncytial virus, and right behind that is influenza,” said Offitt. will be done.”

He said there appeared to be more “two epidemics” of winter respiratory illness than “three epidemics” this year, with RSV and influenza posing the biggest problems for hospitals. Fortunately, SARS-CoV-2 has not caused any major illnesses this year, he said.

Outside of hospitalization, respiratory virus testing is less common due to the lack of home testing for these viruses, with the exception of SARS-CoV-2.

Without extensive testing, it is difficult to know how much morbidity will occur in any given year from any given virus, as there is less surveillance data on infections.

William Schaffner, M.D., professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, said: “We generally know that many of them are seasonal, increasing in late fall, winter and spring, and runny noses, sore throats, and other viral infections that every human being on this planet is familiar with. I don’t feel great for a day, two or three days, but slowly I get better.”

Although all of these viruses commonly cause similar symptoms, they can cause specific symptoms, such as parainfluenza, which causes most croup in children, and RSV, which is a frequent cause of bronchiolitis in infants. There are several viruses known to exhibit

Here are the main features and differences of the most common annual respiratory disorders.

respiratory syncytial virus

RSV is a single-stranded RNA virus. Pneumoviridae with family orthopneumovirus Genus. It was first isolated from chimpanzees with respiratory disease in 1955 at the Walter Reed Army Laboratory. report in Nature.

It’s the most common cause of bronchiolitis in infants and can be serious even in older adults.

“RSV is known as the pediatric virus, but over the past 15 years, people over the age of 65, especially those with underlying lung and heart conditions, can be affected as seriously as the flu by RSV. We’ve accumulated data that there is,” Schaffner said. “There have also been years when the effects of RSV were as severe as the flu.”

However, in most cases, symptoms are usually mild and resemble a cold. These include congestion, runny nose, sneezing, dry cough, low-grade fever, and sore throat.


Influenza is an RNA virus. Orthomyxoviridae The family and its most common subtypes are A and B. Infection usually leads to more severe symptoms than the common cold. These include fever, pain, fatigue, cough and sore throat.

Influenza-infected people are most contagious 3 to 4 days after the onset of symptoms, According to the CDC.

The virus can be more severe in young children and the elderly, and the U.S. typically sees about 20,000 to 25,000 flu deaths per year, but that number could reach 60,000 per year, he said. said Offit.

parainfluenza virus

These single-stranded RNA viruses are Paramyxoviridae family, and divided into two genera: respirovirus When rubula virus, Overall there are four types (1-4) and two subtypes (4a and 4b). According to the CDC.

Parainfluenza virus is The most common culprit in cases of croupnotorious for scaring parents with the harsh sound of wheezing.

By the age of 5, almost all children become seropositive, can be reinfected many times during their lifetime, and become mildly ill with cold-like symptoms. Older people and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of severe infections, according to the CDC.


This single-stranded RNA virus Paramyxoviridae The family was discovered in the Netherlands in 2001, but there is evidence that it has been in circulation for at least 50 years. according to microbiology encyclopedia.

Common symptoms include coughing, fever, and congestion, but it can lead to more serious illness in young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems. According to the CDC.


Rhinoviruses are the most common cause of the common cold, According to the CDCThese single-stranded RNA viruses are Picornaviridae There are three families, A, B, and C.

they were first isolated in the 1950s Winston Price, M.D., trying to identify the cause of the common cold at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.


The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic brought coronavirus to the public’s attention, but until now four subtypes, including 229E, OC43, NL63 and HKU1, have caused respiratory disease in the United States. symptoms.

Two other coronaviruses, the original SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, more serious human diseases.

These single-stranded RNA viruses are known for their distinct surface spikes that give them a crown-like appearance.


Most people who become infected with enteroviruses either have an asymptomatic infection or have only a mild cold-like illness.Of the more than 100 non-polio enteroviruses, the most common are EV-D68, and Coxsackievirus A6 (CV-A6). According to the CDC.

EV-D68 more commonly causes respiratory illness, while EV-A71 and CV-A6 can cause hand-foot-and-mouth disease. EV-D68 is usually asymptomatic or causes only mild symptoms, but in rare cases it can. Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM).


These DNA viruses of the family Adenoviridae It is often accompanied by a small single-stranded DNA parvovirus known as adeno-associated virus and does not appear to cause any specific disease. actually, most experimental gene therapy We switched from using adenovirus to these adeno-associated viruses to alleviate some of the side effects.

Most adenoviral infections are asymptomatic, and most, if any, symptoms are mild. They can also range widely in the types of diseases they cause.

“Adenoviruses are interesting. Some target the respiratory tract more, some have more intestinal symptoms, and some like to cause pink eye,” Schaffner said. The virus family is highly diverse, and in many cases the major effects are rather strain-specific.”

  • Christina Fiore He leads MedPage’s corporate and investigative reporting teams. She has been working as a medical journalist for over 10 years of her career, of which her work has been recognized by Barlett & Steele, AHCJ, SABEW and others. Send your story tips to [email protected]medpagetoday.com. follow

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