1. What is RSV?
RSV is MORE THAN A COLD! RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus. This is a very common virus, one that virtually all children contract by the time they are two years old. The virus causes a lung infection that can make some babies and young children very sick. RSV is the leading cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis in babies and is the most frequent cause of lower respiratory tract infections in children. According to a study published in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal in July 2002, RSV is the leading cause of hospitalization of infants under the age of one. In addition, RSV is thought to play a major role in the development of childhood asthma. See our RSV Resource page for more information.
2. Who is at risk for RSV?
Virtually everyone will contract RSV at some time. RSV infection can place the following categories of children at particular risk:
Among those at risk for developing life-threatening RSV infections are:
3. Is RSV serious?
In most adults and children RSV results in a simple cold. However, premature babies and toddlers or those with lung problems can become gravely ill. During RSV season up to 125,000 infants and young children will be admitted to the hospital as a result of RSV infection. Sadly, about 2% of these children may die from complications associated with it.
Symptoms of RSV often resemble a cold at the beginning:
Signs to watch for as RSV progresses are:
The child's condition can worsen VERY quickly. If there is more than one child in the home, RSV can spread rapidly throughout the home. This is one of the major reasons why RSV is such a great concern to multiple birth families. In all likelihood if you have one baby with RSV that means that each of your other babies have most likely been exposed to it as well and could quite possibly have it also. RSV season lasts from fall to late spring (October through April in most areas of the country).
Find up-to-date information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) about RSV outbreaks by state, region, or the entire US on the RSV Tracking System.
5. How is RSV contracted?
It is very, very easy to contract RSV. It is spread by physical contact (such as shaking hands with an infected person) or by air droplets (caused by an infected person sneezing or coughing). RSV can also live for up to 6 hours on surfaces, such as doorknobs, telephones, faucet handles, counters or used tissues, burp cloths. RSV infections are very common in areas where people are crowded together (either in living together or even taking mass transportation) and in day-care centers. In homes where there are multiple children, RSV can spread very rapidly from child to child. Older brothers and sisters may bring the virus home from school or friends' homes.
To help protect your baby, there are simple steps that parents and caregivers can take:
7. Is there a medication available to prevent RSV disease?
Synagis was approved by the FDA in 1998 to help prevent serious complications from RSV infection in high-risk babies. Synagis is given once a month during the RSV season (usually about 5 visits). This involves a brief visit to the doctor to receive an injection (shot) in the baby's thigh.
8. Where can I learn more about RSV?
RSV Protection.com or call the PreemieCare office (631-859-1110)
Synagis therapy is often
covered by medical insurance, particularly for a child at high-risk for RSV,
such as a premature infant. The toll-free Synagis number (1-877-633-4411)
may help you with assistance in obtaining insurance coverage.
Medically indigent families may qualify for free Synagis. For information contact:
MedImmune Assistance Program
P. O. Box 222197
Charlotte, NC 28222-2197
Important Note: See PreemieCare's Finances and Insurance resources for additional options to help pay for treatments.
RSV is the leading cause of lower respiratory tract infections in babies and young children. About 67% of babies are infected with RSV before their first birthday and virtually all children will have been infected by their second birthday.
If you have any questions about RSV, you are welcome to contact us at PreemieCare via phone at (631) 859-1110 or email us.
P.O. Box 306
East Islip, NY 11730