It has been a winter filled with reports of flu outbreaks all over the US. But the flu isn’t the only virus that can affect our little ones. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a contagious illness which generally causes mild to even moderate cold-like symptoms; but premature babies and other immune-impaired kids could become seriously ill.
Statistics say that almost every baby will have contracted RSV at least once by the age of two and that more than 125, 000 children are hospitalized because of this seasonal disease each year. Sadly 500 children die from it yearly. But what’s really disconcerting is that only 1/3 of the mothers polled knew what RSV was.
Is it RSV? Symptoms and Season
It’s sometimes hard to tell if a child has the flu or RSV, but there are some tips for figuring it out. First, the RSV season generally begins in November and ends in March, so if your child develops a cough or wheeze that doesn’t stop, has fast or troubled breath, or strains to breathe (a caved-in chest or flared nostrils), has a bluish tint to their lips or fingernails, or has a fever (especially if over 100.4 F in babies under 3 months of age), during this time frame, he/she may have a case of RSV. Your child may also demonstrate extreme fatigue, have difficulty feeding, or have rapid breathing. Check out www.RSVProtection.com for more symptoms and recommendations on when to contact medical professionals.
There is no cure and children in daycare and school are especially susceptible because they come in contact with more kids. But there are ways to prevent it and many of them are the same measure you should be practicing to prevent the spread of flu. These consist of hand washing, keeping ill children isolated, and cleaning surfaces that could be contaminated including cleaning toys, blankets, sheets, door knobs, shopping carts, car seats, etc. In fact any item that the child could have contaminated needs to be cleaned because the virus can live on surfaces for several hours after being infected.
If you have a premature infant or immune-suppressed child it’s doubly important to talk with your doctor about Respiratory syncytial virusprevention. For all children washing hands is the first line of defense.
A mom and wife, Connie blogs about entertainment, going green, products, technology, DIY home remodeling and decor, and more. She's an animal lover and lives in the Pacific Northwest near Seattle, WA.
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