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Medical Alert: Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) in children

November 2022

Lately, news reports of RSV affecting children are causing concerns for millions of parents in America. Hospitals around the country are seeing growing cases requiring hospitalization.

Here is some helpful information...

What is RSV?
RSV is a common, contagious virus that causes infections of the respiratory tract.  Infection rates 
are typically higher during the cold winter months, causing bronchiolitis in infants, common colds in adults, and more serious respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia in the elderly and immunocompromised. RSV is spread through contaminated air droplets and can cause outbreaks both in the community and in hospital settings. Currently, there is no vaccine against RSV.  Pfizer just reported that they are developing RSV vaccine for infants.

Points to note:
» RSV season is typically from November through March.  However, this year RSV infections were reported as early as August and is continuing to ramp up.  Perhaps, two years of COVID-19 related isolation is causing this rebound?  
» Infants are impacted the most.   Prematurely born babies are at the most risk as their lungs are not fully developed. Older kids (age 5 and up) typically recover faster. 
» Typical symptom is a constant and aggressive cough (barky) accompanied by temperature. In most cases the duration of the infection is 10-14 days.  
» Symptomatic treatment is provided to relieve the suffering.  Humidifiers, nasal saline and steam vaporizers help.  
» In a number of cases older siblings get infected at school and subsequently the younger ones at home get affected too. It Is also possible that adults may get infected and transmit it to children at home.  
» Prevention includes asking children to wash their hands and maintain distance from others. It is easier for older kids and harder for the little ones to adhere to such safety measures. 
» It is best to be more careful while traveling on an airplane including wearing a mask. As many parents are planning on India travel soon, it is best to follow various safety protocols.
» If you see symptoms like an aggressive cough, temperature then consult with the child’s pediatrician.  Tests can be conducted to determine RSV infection.

Some of the above content is based on input from Pediatrician, Dr. Lakshmi Pinnamaraju of SG Pediatrics, PLLC in Novi. As individual situations may vary, by each patient, it is best to seek direct medical advice as appropriate. 

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