RSV in Babies

rsv toddler

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common and highly contagious virus that contaminates the respiratory tract of a lot of children prior to their 2nd birthday. For most babies and kids, the infection causes absolutely nothing more than a cold. But for a little portion, infection with the RSV virus can lead to major issues such as bronchiolitis, which is inflammation of the small airways of the lungs, or pneumonia, which can end up being deadly.

The risk of severe infection is biggest for:

  • Premature infants
  • Children younger than 2 who were born with heart or lung disease
  • Babies and young kids whose body immune systems are damaged due to disease or medical treatment
  • Children under 8 to 10 weeks of life

Symptoms of RSV

Cold-like symptoms of RSV infection, including cough and runny nose, typically last one to two weeks.

You must call your baby’s doctor if you discover any of the following symptoms:

  • Trouble breathing
  • High fever.
  • Thick discharge from the nose
  • Cough producing yellow, green, or gray mucus
  • Unusual irritability or inactivity
  • Refusal to breastfeed or bottle-feed
  • Signs of dehydration, including lack of tears when crying; little or no urine in the diaper for six hours; cool, dry skin

If your baby is sluggish or breathing really quickly or has a blue tint to the lips or fingernails, get medical attention right away.

RSV Prevention

RSV is spread quickly by touching people or surfaces infected with the virus. Taking steps to prevent RSV infection is important for all infants. However it’s particularly important for those at high risk for severe infection.

The following tips can help avoid the spread of the virus to your baby:

  • Wash your hands often, particularly after contact with anyone with cold symptoms.
  • Clean and disinfectant hard surface areas.
  • Do not allow peopleto touch your baby without first cleaning their hands.
  • Avoid kissing your baby if you have cold symptoms.
  • Keep your baby away from crowds.
  • Do not permit anyone to smoke around your baby.
  • Limitation the time high-risk children and young kids stay in daycare, particularly from late fall to early spring when RSV is most widespread.
  • If possible, keep your baby far from anyone, including older siblings, with cold symptoms.

Although there is no vaccine yet for RSV, a medication called palivizumab may avoid RSV infections and secure high-risk children from serious complications of RSV infection. If your baby is considered high-risk, speak with the doctor about once-monthly injections of this drug during peak RSV season.

infant rsv
“Those with RSV can shed the virus for as long as a week,” states Dr. Bernstein, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Infectious Diseases. “That makes it required to keep the infected separated from those who have no symptoms for rather a long time.”

RSV Treatments in Children

Although palivizumab might assist prevent serious complications of RSV infection, it is not used to treat RSV. There is no medication to treat the virus itself. For that reason, taking care of a baby with RSV infection involves treating symptoms of infection and its effects on the respiratory system.

For most infants and young children, at-home care is enough.

At-home treatment consists of:

  • Getting rid of sticky nasal fluids with a bulb syringe using saline drops
  • Using a cool-mist vaporizer to keep the air moist and make breathing simpler
  • Providing fluids in small amounts frequently through the day
  • Providing non-aspirin fever-reducers such as acetaminophen

For infants with more major cases needing hospitalization, treatment may include:

  • Oxygen
  • IV fluids
  • Medications to open the air passages


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