Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a respiratory illness that is hitting infants hard this time of year. Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children has seen an increase in the number of patients in emergency rooms and being admitted to the hospital with this illness.
RSV causes the cells that line the airways to slough off and plug the lungs. It’s more difficult to clear airways in small babies, making this illness particularly dangerous for infants. Children under the age of two are hit the hardest. The illness usually appears as a cold in older children and adults.
This is a viral infection and cannot be treated with antibiotics. It is treated with supportive care. If school-aged children have infant siblings in their home, it’s very important to monitor their symptoms closely. An infant’s health can rapidly deteriorate due to RSV, so it’s important for parents to watch for symptoms and react quickly. Symptoms include coughing, rapid breathing, skin turning blue due to lack of oxygen, apnea and poor feeding. Call your doctor if you have any questions. Go to the emergency room or dial 911 if you notice your child’s breathing is labored.
RSV is highly contagious. If you have a newborn or infant under the age of two, the best advice is to keep your child at home as much as possible while this virus is in the community. Hand-washing is essential to keeping the virus at bay.
There is no immunization for RSV, therefore, good hand hygiene is the best defense.