PORT ST. JOE, Fla. (WMBB) — Local healthcare facilities said they saw more cases of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) this holiday season than in previous years.

The virus is most common in young children and those over 65 but is affecting middle-aged adults at an unusually high rate.

Monica Barfield is a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Gulf County.

She said her clinic has treated more RSV cases recently than she’s ever seen before.

“Here at New Horizon, in the last couple of months, I can say that we are having probably three to five positive RSVs daily, probably a total of during the week, anywhere from 10 to 15,” Barfield said.

While RSV typically infects infants and the elderly, Barfield said the highest number of infections she’s seen have been in people in their 30s and 40s.

She said she doesn’t know why the virus is affecting middle-aged adults, but she thinks the rapid spread can be attributed to the fact that that age group has more difficulty isolating.

“I do believe we’ve seen an increase in the numbers due to the fact that the patients are not able to stay at home,” Barfield said. “They have to work. They’re the ones that are the working force today. Therefore, our children that’s less than two often are able to stay home because someone in the family may be able to stay at home with them.”

RSV symptoms often mimic those of a common cold, but in some cases, it can turn into pneumonia or bronchiolitis.

“I think the most important thing for us to realize with RSV is recognizing the symptoms and understanding that RSV does not necessarily require an office visit, that if you’re having the symptoms, the most important thing for you to do is stay home, get well, get healthy before you go back out to work, to school, whatever it may be,” Barfield said.

Barfield said if symptoms become more severe after 3 to 8 days, you should seek medical attention.

If you are experiencing extreme difficulty breathing, go immediately to the emergency room.