Parents should be on the look out for symptoms of RSV this year, especially if they have a child under the age of two. In January hospitals in Utah saw a sharp increase in cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and it is on the rise.
In adults and younger children RSV is just a cold virus, but when babies get it down in their lungs it can turn deadly. Premature babies and children with other medical conditions are most especially at risk.
RSV is a very common viral disease of the lungs. Most children are infected by the age of two and may continue to be re-infected throughout their lives. RSV is transmitted through the mucus or saliva of the person who is infected, for example by sneezing, coughing, or hand-to-mouth contact.
Initially, the signs and symptoms of RSV resemble a cold — coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and fever. However, call your pediatrician immediately if your infant or toddler has more severe signs such as difficulty eating, wheezing, rapid breathing, difficulty breathing, or a blue tint around the lips. Call emergency services immediately if your child is unable to speak or cry, has a blue color to the skin, or has stopped breathing for longer than 15 to 20 seconds.
As with most common illnesses, the best prevention is good hygiene — such as hand washing and using tissues when coughing or sneezing. If your infant or toddler is at greater risk for RSV complications, you may want to take extra care to avoid people with colds during the peak months (November to April). Infants in this high-risk category can also be given a monthly vaccine called Synagis. Contact your pediatrician for more information about this vaccine.
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