Everything you need to know about RSV

Everything you need to know about RSV

Parents of younger children may feel uneasy because reports of young RSV patients fill hospitals marked October and November of this year. Respiratory syncytial virus is a common virus, but it can be serious in young children and babies, as well as some adults.

Respiratory viruses like COVID-19, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus often spread and peak in winter, when people travel for vacations and spend more time indoors and breathing the same air. We have already been warned that we will probably have a tough flu season this year, as public health measures like mask-wearing are being phased out after a few years of COVID-19 precautions. But RSV became an additional concern as waves of infection began earlier than normal and familiar reports of overcrowded hospitals flood the media.

Anyone can get RSV, but babies, children under 5, the elderly, and immunocompromised people are especially vulnerable to severe RSV, which can cause pneumonia or bronchitis and require hospitalization. Whereas almost all children will have at least one RSV infection before their second birthday and most are recovering at home, it’s important to know the signs of a more serious infection so you can get the care you need.

Is it a “COVID cough” or RSV?

Cough is a common symptom of many respiratory viruses, including RSV, COVID-19 and influenza. So how do you know what’s causing your child’s cough?

“From a clinical perspective, it’s difficult to determine how the cough might be different,” New Jersey-based pediatrician Dr. Syeda Amna Husain said in an email. RSV, COVID-19 and the flu all have the potential to cause bronchiolitis-like symptoms (lung infection) in children, which can prevent them from moving their lungs to let in air, Husain says.

Testing is the only sure way to know which virus is responsible, according to Husain, and it may also narrow some treatment options.

What is RSV? How does it spread?

Respiratory syncytial virus is a common respiratory virus, meaning it is spread to others by tiny droplets nose or throat of an infected person. You get it when these droplets get into your eyes, nose or throat, either through contact with a sick person or by touching a contaminated surface then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus lives on hard surfaces (like cribs) for hours. RSV does not live as long on soft surfaces, such as skin or tissue. According to the CDC, it is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in babies under 1 year old.

Can adults catch RSV from children?

Yes. Children usually contract RSV at school or daycare and bring it home other family members. Most adults, however, will have mild or no symptoms of RSV.

Some adults, including the elderly, people with weakened immune systems, or adults with lung or heart problems may have more serious illness or complications.

What are the symptoms in children and babies?

Symptoms usually appear about four to six days after being infected or exposed, according to the CDC. Common signs include:

  • Runny nose
  • To sneeze
  • Decreased appetite
  • Cough or wheeze
  • Fever

In very young infants or babies, however, the only symptoms may be irritability and irritability; decreased activity or more tired than normal behavior; or breathing difficulties, including pauses in breathing.

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Signs you should take your child to the hospital

If you or your child have only mild symptoms, further treatment will probably not be necessary outside of your home. But according to the Cleveland Clinic, your child may need to be given intravenous fluids (have an IV) if his rapid breathing prevents them drink and stay hydrated. According to the clinic, about 3% of children with RSV will need hospitalization and most will be able to go home within two to three days.

If your child is having trouble breathing, can’t drink, or if their symptoms are getting worse, that’s when you should call your doctor, according to the CDC. Very young infants (under six months), babies born prematurely, and children who have weakened immune systems, neuromuscular disorders (difficulty swallowing or clearing mucus) and other health conditions have a greater risk of serious illness of RSV.

If you are elderly, immunocompromised, or have an underlying medical condition, you may also be at higher risk of serious illness from RSV. In fact, the elderly have a higher burden of death from RSV. According CDC monitoringRSV is expected to cause at least 6,000 to 10,000 deaths in adults 65 and older, compared to 100 to 300 deaths in children under 5, each year in the United States.

If you or someone around you is having trouble breathing, always seek emergency care or medical attention immediately.

RSV treatments

RSV is a viral infection, which means antibiotics will not work. RSV treatment is usually supportive, and over-the-counter medications (but never aspirin for children) can help relieve common symptoms like cough or congestion. You should consult your doctor before giving your child any medication, even without a prescription, because not all medication ingredients are safe for children and their growing little bodies.

High-risk children who are seriously ill are sometimes treated with an antiviral ribavirin and intravenous immunoglobulin. Treatment may also be considered for seriously ill immunocompromised adults. The vast majority of patients do not require these interventions.

For infants and children at high risk preventative strategies are available, there is a monoclonal antibody called Palivizumab. It is given as monthly injections during RSV season and is intended for children who are at higher risk of hospitalization. Some eligible children These would be babies born very premature (before 29 weeks), young children who are immunocompromised or have other health problems, such as heart disease or neuromuscular disease.

If you think your child is at high risk and might be eligible for treatment, contact your doctor.

Is there a vaccine?

There is no vaccine against RSV yet, but scientists are working on it. Pfizer announced promising results of its global trial this week which found that its RSV vaccine, when given to a pregnant person, was about 82% effective in preventing serious illness in babies born to them within the first three months of their life. It was about 69% effective in the first six months of a child’s life.

Johnson & Johnson also started international trials of its vaccine in the elderly.

How to Avoid RSV

Since RSV is a respiratory virus, many of the same health precautions we take for other viruses will reduce the risk of you or your child getting it. This includes avoiding contact with people who are sick or showing symptoms, avoiding crowded indoor places, and washing your hands before eating or touching your face.

For babies and young children, prevention could extend to not allowing other people to kiss, hold or touch your baby if you are concerned about contracting the virus. (You can also ask them to wash their hands and wear a mask when they hold your baby.) Ideally, the CDC says that people with cold symptoms should avoid being around children more at risk of RSV.

How about minimizing the risk of RSV in a child who is active and tends to have his hands and toys everywhere?

“Try to keep your child’s hands away from their face, especially their nose and mouth,” Husain said, as this is a quick way for common infectious particles to spread. You can also disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys, counters and doorknobs.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.

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