The flu isn’t the only illness sending kids to the doctor this winter. Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is also on the upswing and can be very dangerous for infants, CNN reports.
In healthy older kids and adults the symptoms are typically mild, but infection can be serious in preemies and babies with underlying health conditions. RSV causes infections of the lungs and respiratory tract and is so prevalent that most kids are infected before the age of two. However, "the vast majority of kids who get RSV just have cold symptoms and get better," Dr. Robert Wiskind, Georgia president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told CNN. "A minority of them develop bronchiolitis (an inflammation of tiny air passages in the lungs specific to babies and young children) -- and a very small percentage have significant problems."
RSV is most contagious after the first several days of infection and spreads through direct contact or from exposure to those who are sneezing and coughing.
There is no vaccine for RSV, but there is one medication to help avert it, reports CNN. For high-risk infants who are born prematurely or with congenital lung or heart disease, doctors can administer the medication Synagis through a series of injections. However, the drug is costly and used only in special circumstances.
Kids with mild symptoms of RSV can be treated with nasal drops and an over-the-counter medicine like Tylenol or ibuprofen. Those with serious cases may require hospitalization.
If your child has difficulty breathing; blue fingernails or lips; rapid, quick breathing; trouble bottle-feeding or breastfeeding; deep, frequent coughing; or dehydration, seek medical help immediately.
Has your child ever been diagnosed with RSV? Leave a comment.