RSV: What parents should know

Pediatric hospitals around the country are reporting an unusually high incidence of respiratory ailments as families prepare for a season in which the flu and COVID-19 are anticipated to surge.

The national concern over the strain on hospital resources caused by the rise in cases of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, and other illnesses like bronchiolitis and viral pneumonia may extend to parents as well.

The good news, says Kimberly Monroe, M.D., M.S., interim chief clinical officer and pediatric hospitalist at University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, is that pediatricians have plenty of experience with these common infections and can help families manage them.

During the winter, we anticipate seeing a lot more RSV cases, but pediatrics is what we do best. We know what to do, we know that if we give supportive care, most children will recover.

She gives parents more advice concerning pediatric respiratory diseases, how to spot significant symptoms, and what to think about before going to the emergency room.

RSV is common and usually mild

RSV is a fairly prevalent seasonal respiratory virus that often only manifests as mild cold-like symptoms including fever, stuffy or runny nose, and cough. Through the mouth, nose, or eyes, it enters the body.

“Most children with RSV have cold symptoms and can rest and recover at home,” said Monroe. “If children have only the normal symptoms of a cold, such as cough, sneezing or congestion, parents can go to the pediatrician or the primary physician for directions”.

Monroe also suggests keeping kids hydrated and treating fevers with over-the-counter medications if age-appropriate.

Pediatricians see children with the infection every year, but this season, RSV seems to have started earlier and in greater numbers. Various theories from experts explain why, according to Monroe. When a child is two years old, they typically get the RSV, and those affected have never had it before, when their interactions with other people were minimal. Resuming routine interactions after two years of isolation during COVID-19 may be what caused the surge because the risk of exposure was lower.

Preventative actions are essential

Monroe also stresses the value of taking prophylactic measures to save kids from RSV and other seasonal infections.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, RSV patients typically have a three- to eight-day infectious period. In addition to frequently spreading through coughing and sneezing, the virus can linger on hard surfaces for hours.

According to Monroe, regularly cleaning items like toys, door handles, and tables can dramatically minimize the spread of germs. This is especially true after leaving the office or the grocery store.Parents can also instruct kids to cough into their elbows or tissues.

She also counsels parents to cancel playdates when their kids are sick, remain home when they are, or wear masks if they must leave the house. Keeping up with vaccines is essential for preventing infections. Monroe urges everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated against the flu and the most recent COVID-19 vaccine, which is now accessible to children under the age of 5.

She stated that vaccinations remain one of our best lines of defense against serious illness caused by viruses like COVID-19 and the flu. As winter approaches, rising kid immunization rates will enhance community health and reduce the strain on the health system’s resources.

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