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Your Child's Health, Our Priority, Always

RSV Infections in Children

“I just assumed she would fight the cold off just like her older brother did, but I was wrong.” – Jackie, mother of Sophia (6 months), bedside at the local children’s hospital

What does Sophia have? 

RSV, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, which is a common virus that causes mild, cold-like symptoms in older children and healthy adults. However, it can be dangerous in infants. It is the most common cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis, inflammation of the small airways in the lungs. Cases of RSV usually occur from the Fall through early Spring, but there was reduced spread of RSV in the past two years due to quarantine and masking guidelines. This reduction is leading to more and worse cases surfacing this year already. It can be spread through droplets and live on surfaces for a few hours.

Symptoms of RSV appear within four to six days of exposure and include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, wheezing, trouble breathing, decreased appetite, and fussiness. Most cases self-resolve with liquids, acetaminophen, cool mist humidifiers, and suctioning of the nose. However, infants can worsen quickly into dehydration with dry mouth and fewer wet diapers, drowsiness with a lack of appetite, and difficulty breathing. Sometimes the only symptom you will see in an infant is fussiness and decreased activity.

As tempting as it is to let loved ones near your infants, ensure everyone is without symptoms, is washing their hands, and avoids kisses to the head and face. A good habit is to always clean frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, counters, and toys and cover your coughs and sneezes. RSV cannot be treated with antibiotics; it is a virus. There are supportive treatments some infants and children might need, including IV antibiotics or nebulizer breathing treatments.

 Call your Pediatrician if you have any concerns at all. The only call you will regret is the one you do not make!