The winter season is here and with that comes the flu. However, the flu is not the only virus to keep an eye out for. Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a very common illness during the winter months, especially for babies under the age of two. RSV attacks the lining of the airways and lungs. This winter, prepare yourself with these five important facts about RSV.
- Early signs of RSV are the same as the common cold. Runny nose, sneezing and mild cough are early signs of an RSV infection. However, RSV often turns into a deeper cough and causes difficulty breathing by the second or third day of a runny nose.
- Call your pediatrician if your baby is under 6 months. RSV can get serious quickly. Call your pediatrician if your baby is under 6 months old and showing cold symptoms. Be sure to call your pediatrician if your child seems very sick or is having trouble breathing, sleeping, eating, or drinking.
- Infants under the age of 1 are the most severely infected. Dr. John DeVincenzo, a leading investigator in the treatment of RSV and medical director of microbiology, molecular diagnostics and virology lab at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, says the virus infects all age groups but infants younger than 1 year of age are most severely infected. It is the most common cause of pneumonia in infants and the most common cause of hospitalization of infants. In fact, about 3 percent of all babies younger than 1 year of age are hospitalized for RSV infection.
- The virus spreads through physical contact of people with colds. RSV doesn’t fly through the air, but it can be sneezed onto your infant or physically given to your baby by direct physical contact. The best way to protect your child from this infection is to encourage everyone to wash their hands before touching your baby.
- Basic flu prevention can also help prevent RSV. Wash your hands regularly, especially before contact with babies. Wash your child’s toys regularly. Sneeze into a tissue and away from infants. Keep people with colds, including older siblings, away from your baby.
Winter is full of so much magic for children. Help make this season bright by knowing the facts about RSV and taking steps to help prevent it. If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s health, do not hesitate to reach out to your pediatrician.