Respiratory syncytial virus
It seems like everywhere I look on Facebook lately, I hear about someone whose child has RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus). I honestly do not remember hearing about RSV when my own kids were little (thank goodness), but it is really scary to hear about all of these cases. In fact, one friend of mine just spent a month in the hospital because her 15-month old daughter had RSV which turned into several other health issues. She was a very, very sick little girl.
What is RSV?
RSV is a seasonal virus that affects about two-thirds of all infants by age the age of one and almost 100% of babies by the age of two, since it is very contagious. RSV can live on surfaces such as countertops, doorknobs, bedding and toys, for several hours. It is often spread through touching (including kissing and hugging). When a child is in daycare, the risk of RSV spreading is increased, as children share toys, tables and high chairs. The risk is also increased as children eat and nap in close proximity to each other.
I remember when my kids were little, how many germs they brought home from daycare and school. Germs and infections spread like wildfire, especially with pre-term babies, children in daycare, or school-aged siblings who bring germs home. Premature infants are most at risk of developing RSV since their lungs haven’t fully developed and they have fewer antibodies that fight infection than full-term babies do.
This infographic below shows just how serious this illness is.
Many parents think their child has a simple cold, and they assume that the child will recover in a few days. But when it is RSV, it is very serious. Just like the common cold, RSV has a “season” which is usually from November – March. During the cold winter months, parents should be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of RSV. The symptoms below are those of severe RSV and they require medical care immediately:
- Coughing or wheezing that does not stop
- Fast or troubled breathing
- Spread-out nostrils and/or a caved-in chest when trying to breathe
- Bluish color around the mouth or fingernails
- Fever (especially if it is over 100.4°F in infants under 3 months of age)
Facts about RSV
Here are a few facts about RSV that parents, caregivers and loved ones should be aware of:
- Almost every baby will contract RSV by age 2, but only 1/3 of moms say they’ve heard of the virus.
- Serious RSV infection is the leading cause of infant hospitalization, responsible for more than 125,000
- hospitalizations and up to 500 infant deaths each year.
- RSV occurs in epidemics each fall through spring. The CDC has defined “RSV season” as beginning in November
- and lasting through March for most parts of North America.
- Certain babies are at an increased risk of developing serious RSV infection, so it’s important to speak with a
- pediatrician to determine if a baby may be at high risk for RSV, and discuss preventive measures.
- Symptoms of serious RSV infection include: persistent coughing or wheezing; rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths;
- blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails; high fever; extreme fatigue; and difficulty feeding. Parents should contact a medical professional immediately upon signs of these symptoms.
- There is no treatment for RSV, so it’s important for parents to take preventive steps to help protect their child (wash hands, toys, bedding frequently; avoid crowds and cigarette smoke).
Please visit the RSV Protection website to learn more about RSV and it’s symptoms.
You can also follow along with #RSVProtection on Twitter to learn more.
*I wrote this review while participating in a campaign for Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.