RSV DiseaseWhat is RSV Disease?
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most common respiratory virus in infants and young children. About 70% of children will contract RSV by the time they are one year old and nearly all children will have had it before they are two. For most, it's no worse than the common cold, but for babies with high risk factors, RSV can lead to a serious lung infection, and is the leading cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis in infants. Approximately 90,000 children, most of them younger than six months, are hospitalized with RSV disease each year in the United States; about 2% of these children die.
This virus is the biggest threat to infants during late fall, winter and early spring: from approximately November until March in the northern temperate zone, from May until September in the southern hemisphere. However, the exact timing and severity of the outbreak varies from place to place and from year to year.
RSV is highly contagious and can be transmitted by touching an infected person and then rubbing your eyes, nose, or mouth. It can also be spread through coughing and sneezing, and can survive 4-7 hours on surfaces such as table tops and cribs.
Early symptoms of RSV are similar to a cold and can include a runny nose, mild headache and low-grade fever. If the disease becomes more severe, the symptoms may include severe cough, high fever, wheezing, rapid breathing, difficulty breathing. and a bluish color of the lips or fingernails due to lowered oxygen levels in the blood.
If your baby gets RSV disease, its important to make sure that she can breathe, drink, eat and sleep comfortably. A cool-mist vaporizer can help sooth irritated breathing passages, make sure that she gets plenty of fluids, and if her nostrils become irritated rub a little petroleum jelly under them. Do NOT use aspirin to treat fever, as the use of aspirin in children with viral disease has been associated with the development of Reye syndrome
Because this disease can progress so quickly, it's important to consult your pediatrician at an early stage to determine the severity and whether or not hospitalization will be needed. And be sure to call if your child has any of these symptoms: a fever over 101 degrees F (38.3 degrees C), a nasal discharge or cough that produces yellow, green or gray mucus, hard or rapid breathing, blue or grey skin or fingernails.
RSV Risk Factors and How to Protect Your Child
Certain children are more likely to develop the severe version of RSV disease. The risk factors are:
*A household with more than four people.
*Always wash your hands with soap and warm water before touching your baby, and make sure that anyone else who touches him does the same.
Protecting Your Child
FAQ on RSV from the RSV Prevention Site
More Info from the RSV Prevention Site
Respiratory Syncytial Virus from the Center for Disease Control
Other Sites with Information about RSV Disease
RSV Info Center
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Last updated Sun, Jun 4, 2006
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