I have heard alot about RSV and even pneumonia lately. What is RSV, what are the symptoms of RSV, how does a child get RSV, and how contagious is it?
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), is the most common cause of lower respiratory tract illness in children. RSV causes infection of the breathing passages and the lungs and is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than one. Just about every child will be infected with the virus by the time they turn two, but only a small percentage will develop severe cases.
RSV is very contagious and most often occurs between the months of November and April. Symptoms are similar to the common cold but can be more severe.
- Runny Nose
- Sore throat
- Mild Cough
- Less Energy
- Decreased appetite
Complications (secondary infections) due to RSV:
- Bronchiolitis – infection of the small breathing tubes (bronchioles) of the lungs
- Pneumonia – infection within the lungs
- Ear infections
Cough is more pronounced
Abnormal rapid breathing can occur
Wheezing – high pitch whistling sound when child breathes out (exhales)
Pneumonia (similar symptoms):
Fast, labored breathing
Increased activity of the breathing muscles between the ribs and above collar bone
Flaring of the nostrils
Do not diagnose your child on your own. Be sure to contact your child’s pediatrician for the proper diagnosis and treatment.
CONTACT YOUR DR. Immediately if your Infant/child:
- is under 3 months of age and any fever is present
- -has signs of breathing difficulty
- -has visible flaring of nostrils
- -is wheezing
- -has signs of dehydration: dry mouth, taking in less fluids, shedding no tears, or is urinating less often.
- stops eating and drinking, especially young infant.
- -is very lethargic
- -fingertips and/or lips have a bluish tint
RSV usually lasts for one to two weeks but the cough can possibly linger for several weeks.
How is RSV transmitted:
RSV is highly contagious and can be transmitted through direct and indirect contact with an infected person’s nasal or oral secretions.
Directly – spread through droplets in the air when someone sneezes or coughs. Kissing a child on the face or lips who is infected with the virus.
Indirectly – It can also live on many surfaces such as countertops or doorknobs, on hands, and clothing. Therefore it can very easily be spread when a person touches something that has been contaminated. Anyway in which you come in contact with the sectrections of an infected child.
Transmissions of virus usually occurs when a person comes in contact with infectious secretion and then rub their eyes or nose.
How is it diagnosed:
Through careful evaluation of signs and symptoms.
There is also a laboratory test using a sample of the child’s nasal secretions.
- To treat and decrease fever use over the counter medications like infant/children’s motrin or Tylenol
- Use a cool mist humidifier to keep air moist
- If child is to young to blow his/her nose, use a nasal aspirator (bulb syringe) to remove nasal discharge.
- Using mild nasal saline drops
- Keeping child upright or elevated can help your child’s breathing.
- Antibiotics are not typically used to treat RSV. RSV is a virus and antibiotics will only treat bacterial infections.
- Treatment for Complications of RSV or Secondary Infections that arise:
- Bronchiodiators using a nebulizer may be needed to help open your child’s airway
- Antibiotics will be used to treat ear infections and if pneumonia is suspected.
Most, otherwise healthy children, can received treatment and get better at home.
Although, some children do need to be hospitalized due to respiratory distress and/or dehydration.
Avoid close cotect with people who are in the early stages of a respiratory infection, especially when a RSV outbreak is known. Washing hands frequently and thoroughly.
- Have children cover their coughs and sneezes, using elbow not hand.
- Wash your child’s hands frequently and thoroughly.
- Avoid having your share his/her cup and eating utensils with others
- Refrain from kissing other
- Cleaning contaminated surfaces such as countertops, doorknobs, toys, and clothing, can help prevent the spread of RSV.