Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
With the Influenza season hopefully slowing down, we still have one more pesky respiratory illness to watch out for. RSV or respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-ul) virus, causes infection of the lungs and breathing passages. RSV is highly contagious, and spreads through droplets containing the virus when someone coughs or sneezes. It also can live on surfaces (such as countertops or doorknobs) and on hands and clothing, so it can easily spread when a person touches something contaminated (Kids Health, 2019). RSV infections often happen in epidemics that last from late fall through early spring. Respiratory illness caused by RSV — such as bronchitis or pneumonia — usually lasts about a week, but some cases may last several weeks (CDC, 2019).
According to the CDC, symptoms of RSV infection usually include:
- Runny nose
- Decrease in appetite
Because RSV can be easily spread by touching infected people or surfaces, washing hands well and often is key in stopping it. Try to wash your hands after having any contact with someone who has cold symptoms. School-age kids who have a cold should be kept away from any younger siblings — especially babies — until their symptoms pass (Kids Health, 2019).
Treatment for RSV generally involves self-care measures to make your child more comfortable (supportive care). However, hospital care may be needed if severe symptoms occur. Your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) to reduce fever. Frequent use of nasal saline drops and suctioning can help clear a stuffy nose. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if there’s a bacterial complication, such as bacterial pneumonia. Keep your child as comfortable as possible. Offer plenty of fluids and watch for signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth, little to no urine output, sunken eyes, and extreme fussiness or sleepiness (Mayo Clinic, 2019).