October 06, 2022
Alexandria, LA, – RSV season has arrived. And though most children will develop respiratory syncytial virus before age 2, with only mild cold-like symptoms, other children are not so lucky.
Each year in the United States, an estimated 58,000 children younger than 5 years old are hospitalized due to RSV infection. Those at greatest risk for severe illness from RSV include
- Premature infants
- Very young infants, especially those 6 months and younger
- Children younger than 2 years old with chronic lung disease or congenital (present from birth) heart disease
- Children with weakened immune systems
- Children who have neuromuscular disorders, including those who have difficulty swallowing or clearing mucus secretions
“One to two out of every 100 children younger than 6 months of age with RSV infection may need to be hospitalized,” said Stacy Ramsingh, M.D., Pediatric Intensivist at Rapides Women’s and Children’s Hospital “Those who are hospitalized may require oxygen, intubation, and/or mechanical ventilation (help with breathing). Most improve within a few days with this treatment.”
RSV season occurs each year in most regions of the U.S. during fall, winter, and spring. If you have contact with an infant or young child, especially those who were born prematurely, are very young, have chronic lung or heart disease or a weakened immune system, you should take extra care to keep the infant healthy by following these tips from the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases:
- Wash your hands often
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Washing your hands will help protect you from germs.
- Keep your hands off your face
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Germs spread this way.
- Avoid close contact with sick people
Avoid close contact, such as kissing, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who have cold-like symptoms.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your upper shirt sleeve when coughing or sneezing. Throw the tissue in the trash afterward.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces
Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that people frequently touch, such as toys, doorknobs, and mobile devices. When people infected with RSV touch surfaces and objects, they can leave behind germs. Also, when they cough or sneeze, droplets containing germs can land on surfaces and objects.
- Stay home when you are sick
If possible, stay home from work, school, and public areas when you are sick. This will help protect others from catching your illness.
These tips will also help prevent other viruses during the cold and flu season! If your child is having difficulty breathing, not drinking enough fluids, or you see symptoms getting worse, call your pediatrician or healthcare provider. If you need a physician referral, call (318) 769-4440.