RSV. Those three little letters can be very scary for new parents. It's a respiratory virus that kills 1700 babies each year. It's basically a common cold in an older child, but in a baby (especially a newborn) it can be very serious. And guess what? The winter months are the prime season for RSV or Respiratory syncytial virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia among infants and children under 1 year of age. The Illness begins most frequently with:
- Runny nose
- Sometimes wheezing
During their first RSV infection, between 25% and 40% of infants and young children have signs or symptoms of bronchiolitis or pneumonia, and 0.5% to 2% require hospitalization.
Most children recover from the illness in 8 to 15 days. The majority of children hospitalized for RSV infection are under 6 months of age.
And a little known fact you probably haven't heard? RSV can effect a child their entire life! It causes repeated infections throughout life, usually associated with moderate-to-severe cold-like symptoms; however, severe lower respiratory tract disease may occur at any age, especially among the elderly or among those with compromised cardiac, pulmonary, or immune systems.
When I read these facts about RSV each year, I tend to be more prudent about getting my kids to wash their hands. Besides avoiding being around sick people, which is impossible when kids are in school, washing hands is your best defense.