The first time I heard about RSV, or Respiratory Synctial Virus, was when my husband’s co-worker lost his grandchild. The child was the same age as my then 3 month old baby boy. It really hit home for us. It wasn’t a long, drawn-out illness that had taken this child’s life, but something I had yet to hear about – RSV. Why hadn’t I known about this? I would later learn that many parents were unaware of RSV and how it can affect babies.
RSV is a common, seasonal virus that affects two-thirds of infants by age 1 and almost 100% of babies by age 2. It is highly contagious and can live on multiple surfaces – doorknobs, toys, bedding – for hours. Daycare can increase the risk of RSV in younger children since babies are sharing surfaces, toys and sleeping in close quarters. Babies who are very young or are premature are especially at risk.
Once I knew what RSV was, and how it had so sadly affected my husband’s co-worker’s family, I learned all I could to help protect our child. RSV usually starts out like a common cold. These symptoms, especially in young babies and preemies, can develop quickly into more serious symptoms and infection due to underdeveloped lungs and immune systems. Unfortunately, there is no cure for RSV, once contracted, so prevention is key!
A few quick facts about Prevention and Symptoms:
Wash hands, toys, bedding, and play areas frequently
Ensure you, your family, and any visitors in your home wash their hands or use hand sanitizer
Avoid large crowds and people who are or have been sick
Never let anyone smoke near your baby
Speak with your child’s doctor if he or she may be at high risk for RSV, as a preventive therapy may be available
- coughing or wheezing that does not stop
- fast breathing or struggling to breathe
- spread out nostrils or caved in chest when trying to breathe
- bluish color around the mouth or fingers
- fever (especially if it is over 100.4 in babies 3 months and under)