RSV is a short term used for respiratory syncytial virus. It is the most common virus that causes respiratory infection in all age groups. In infants, RSV mostly affects between one to six months, with high incidence around 2 to 3 months.
The virus can cause mild cold like symptoms to more severe conditions such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia in infants who are less than one year, especially in certain high risk groups.
Infant RSV Symptoms
Symptoms of RSV in infants include:
- Running nose.
When the disease takes a serious course the symptoms are:
- Rapid breathing.
- Lips turn blue.
- Difficulty in breathing.
- Increased movement of chest due to rapid breathing.
Is RSV In Infants Contagious?
Infant RSV is highly contagious; and for this reason, you have to take utmost precaution to keep your baby away from those babies and individuals, who are infected with RSV.
It is believed that by the age of three years, most babies may have had an episode of RSV infection. Fortunately, the disease is not so severe in most of the cases.
The route of transmission is through inhaling droplets of an infected individual generated during a bout of sneeze or cough. RSV can also spread when the infected nasal secretions come in contact with the mucous membrane of eye, mouth, nose of your baby.
The risk of infection increases during the hospital checkups, where the child can be near to other infected babies, or in a crowded households and day care centers.
It takes 4to 5 days for RSV infection to produce symptoms after it enters the infant’s body.
RSV generally occurs between November and April month, that is during the late fall till early spring.
Risk factors include:
- Premature infants.
- Low birth weight.
- Infants attending day care.
- Suppressed immune system.
- Overcrowding in house.
- Exposed to tobacco smoke.
- Congenital heart diseases.
Treatment For RSV In Infants
There is no definite treatment available to kill the RSV germs, neither a vaccine available as a preventive measure. The only thing one can do is to build up immunity so that the virus gets killed of its own and to decrease the effects of symptoms it produces. In case of infants preventive measures such as:
- Reducing the exposure to tobacco smoke.
- Avoiding close contacts with other babies and individuals especially during first six to eight months.
- Proper breast feeding for at least one year. As breast feeding increases the immunity of the infant.
- Avoid visiting crowded places and areas with your child especially during the annual community outbreaks.
- Infants with severe RSV symptoms may need hospitalization where facilities of oxygen, IV fluids and other emergency measures are available.
- In case of mild RSV symptoms such as nose block, you can use saline nasal drops to clear blocked nose.
- Try to feed smaller amount of food at regular interval to your child as the child will have diminished appetite.