What is RSV?

RSV is a virus that is transmitted only among humans. There are two strains that can cause differences in the severity. The virus can spread via infected droplets from secretions from the nose or mouth.

RSV is capable of surviving for a minimum of 30 minutes on the hands and several hours on surfaces that are contaminated. The virus can cause epidemics, usually during the winter and early spring. Nevertheless, the actual time and duration vary.

It is important to note that RSV can affect any region of the respiratory tract which results to intense inflammation. The infection is considered serious if it affects the small-sized breathing tubes. In addition, it can also trigger infection in the lungs.

Is RSV serious?

Many individuals typically develop mild disease that is comparable to common cold along with runny nose, congestion and cough. Approximately 25-40% of infants and children will end up with symptoms of pneumonia or bronchiolitis while 5-20% require admission in a healthcare facility.

RSV

Infected children who require hospitalization are usually younger than 6 months old.

Infected children who require hospitalization are usually younger than 6 months old. The elderly or adults with chronic lung or heart disease or weakened immune systems face a higher risk for developing a severe condition if re-infected.

Indications of RSV

  • Nasal congestion, mild cough, runny nose and low grade fever (initial symptoms of both mild and severe forms of the disease)
  • Bark-like cough which indicates significant swelling within and around the vocal chords.
  • Fever either low grade or high
  • Difficulty breathing with either rapid breathing, nasal flaring and retractions of the chest wall
  • Lethargy or irritability
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty drinking
  • Bluish color around the lips, mouth and fingernails
  • Apnea is a common indication of RSV among young infants especially those born premature

Management

Mild cases of RSV infections do not require treatment other than over-the-counter medications to alleviate the symptoms while fever is managed using acetaminophen.

A bulb syringe can be used to clear up the mucus from the nose to improve breathing among infants. This is usually done before feeding so that infants can drink easily.

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