RSV Explained (Infographic)
RSV can disguise itself as the common cold, but it can be much more severe in infants and toddlers. Know the warning signs of this virus to be sure your children are protected.
What is RSV?
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a highly contagious illness that causes infection of the lungs and breathing passages. Adults with RSV may only produce symptoms of a common cold such as a stuffy nose, sore throat, mild headache, cough and/or fever. Children and babies may produce more severe form of the illness where symptoms appear almost like an asthma attack with wheezing and shortness of breath. "One of the warning signs that your child should be seen because they are working too hard to breath is, if you can see the skin between their ribs pulling (retracting) in with each breath." says Dr. Andrew Sims, pediatrician with Blank Children's Pediatrics.
The virus is highly contagious as it can be spread through droplets when a person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can be transferred from doorknobs, counter tops, clothing or skin-to-skin contact. RSV infections typically occur in epidemics lasting from late fall through early spring. Many of these waves occur in daycare centers. If your child is showing symptoms of the virus, Dr. Sims tells parents "Using a few drops of nasal saline in each nostril before suctioning with a bulb syringe can really help to clear the airway of infants during a cold. The best times to suction are before feedings and before naps. If you are not sure about how to suction, bring your suction device to your next appointment and ask your pediatrician to walk you through it."
Frequent hand-washing can go a long way in preventing the virus from spreading. Be especially conscious of washing your hands after coming into contact with someone who has any cold symptoms. It is advised to keep newborn babies and at-risk kids away from children who may be ill.
Call Your Doctor If Your Child Has…
- Wheezing or seems to be working harder to breathe
- Decreased activity
- Prolonged illness
- Retracting of ribs
- High fever