JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Amid an increase in respiratory illness brought on by multiple viruses, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is sponsoring free testing events across the state to slow or stop the spread of flu, COVID-19, and RSV.

Until March 2023, Missourians can visit one of 15 testing sites and receive a single nasal swab test to check for all three viruses. Patients of all ages can be tested. The health department says additional testing locations will be added.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common airborne virus that causes mild, cold-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, congestion, runny nose, and sneezing. Infants can also experience fussiness and poor feeding. The virus can show more severe symptoms like grunting, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

The virus affects people of any age, but is more common in children under 2 years of age, and can be dangerous for infants and older adults. Most people recover from RSV in one to two weeks.

While RSV is not a reportable condition to DHSS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks state-level trends and data shows an increase in Missouri.

Flu and COVID-19 have similar symptoms, including cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, sore threat, stuffy or runny nose, muscle pain or body aches, and headaches.

According to DHSS, some Missouri hospitals are experiencing a strain due to the increase in respiratory illness. As a result, people should only travel to emergency rooms in the event of an actual emergency.