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Color Their World - Safe! Articles on child health and safety, from Nanny's Place

RSV Disease

What 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:

*Male sex
*Premature infants (35 week gestation or less) - children born early often have lungs that have not developed completely and many have not received enough antibodies from their mothers to fight off the disease
*Babies who are twins or other multiples - these children are more likely to have been born prematurely
*Babies under 6-8 weeks of age
*Babies or toddlers with pre-existing lung disease, including asthma and bronchopulmonary dysplasia
*Babies or toddlers with congenital heart disease
*People with immune system deficiencies


In addition to the above, there are also environmental factors that put babies at risk. These are:

*A household with more than four people.
*Babies who have school-age siblings
*Babies who are not breastfed
*Babies who are exposed to tobacco smoke
*Babies and toddlers who are in daycare


If your child has any of these risk factors, take extra care that she is not exposed to RSV disease, and that her environment is as healthy as possible:

*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.
*Be extra careful about cleaning surfaces if anyone in the family has a cold.
*Stay away from your baby if you have a cold or fever.
*Keep older siblings and other children away from the baby, especially if they have a runny nose, fever, or cold.
*Don't take the baby to crowded areas such as shopping centers.
*Never smoke around your baby and don't let anyone else do so.
*Breastfeed!!!


Sources for this article

Protecting Your Child
http://www.rsvprotection.com/protect.htm

Risk Factors
http://www.rsvprotection.com/which.htm

FAQ on RSV from the RSV Prevention Site
http://www.rsvprotection.com/faq.html

More Info from the RSV Prevention Site
http://www.rsvprotection.com/parents.html

Respiratory Syncytial Virus from the Center for Disease Control
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/revb/respiratory/rsvfeat.htm

Other Sites with Information about RSV Disease

RSV Info Center
http://www.rsvinfo.com/
You'll find information about diagnosing and managing RSV, a RSV research library, rapid test kits, early treatment benefits, and more.

Mothers of SuperTwins OnLine (MOST)
http://www.mostonline.org/
MOST is a support network of families who have or are expecting triplets, quadruplets or more. They also have a section on RSV disease.

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Last updated Sun, Jun 4, 2006

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