Recognizing RSV Symptoms During RSV Awareness Month: A Winter Virus Not to Forget
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is often left out of the winter virus conversation. Senior Medical Director Chris Rizzo explains why it should be included.
October is annually recognized as RSV awareness month. RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is a common, contagious respiratory virus that ninety percent of infants will catch by their second birthday. Although it spreads during the same time of year as the flu, RSV usually does not capture the headlines like flu. In fact, unless your child has had a serious case of RSV, you’ve probably never heard of it.
Although RSV usually causes cold-like symptoms, in babies under the age of one year, RSV often settles in the lungs causing pneumonia and/or bronchiolitis, which can lead to difficulty breathing, eating, and sleeping. In some cases, hospital admission is required for close monitoring and to provide oxygen and IV fluids. As a result, RSV is the leading cause of infant hospitalization in the U.S. For most of those admissions, the babies had been previously healthy. Some require time in the ICU and use of a ventilator to help them breathe. Treatment is supportive until infants recover; there is no cure for RSV nor is there a vaccine, making it one of the few remaining serious pediatric infectious diseases with no prevention available for most infants.
RSV can be serious and awareness is the first step to help prevent this virus in very young babies. Simple tips to reduce the spread of RSV include washing hands prior to handling a baby, washing shared toys, covering coughs, avoiding kissing babies, and avoiding contact with persons who have cold symptoms. Helpful resources for more information on the signs and symptoms of RSV, and how to help protect your child against it, can be found here.
At Sanofi, we are continuing to research the impact of RSV on young children, and we’re working toward potential preventive options to combat this serious virus. In the meantime, I hope you’ll take a moment to share this information to help give RSV, and these infants, the attention they deserve during this year’s winter virus season.