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Did You Know...
by Lesli Kramer - PA-C, Murray County Medical Center

From Murray County Medical Center’s Emergency Department                                                                     

Tis the season for celebration, but it is also the season for RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) infections.   Just the mention of RSV can send chills up the spines of parents with small children.  RSV often causes only mild, cold-like symptoms, but it can also cause severe lung infections, including bronchiolitis (infection of small airways in the lungs) and pneumonia.   Approximately 100,000 hospital admissions occur annually in the United States secondary to RSV, and it is the most common cause of hospitalization among infants during the first 12 months of life.  Ninety percent of children have been infected with RSV in the first two years of life.  People of any age can continue to get RSV infections, but infections later in life are generally less severe.  Adults with compromised immune systems and those 65 and older are exceptions to this generalization, and are at increased risk of severe disease.

Most people usually experience mild, cold-like symptoms and recover on their own within a week or two.  RSV is a virus and antibiotics do not treat viruses.  Children need to rest and to take small amounts of fluid more often.   Keep your child’s nose clear with saline nose drops (from a pharmacy).  If your child is miserable and irritable, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be given.  Closely follow the dosage instruction on the bottle.  It is dangerous to give more than the recommended dosage.   FDA does not recommend over the counter (OTC) cold and cough medicines for children younger than two years of age.

Unfortunately, RSV can sometimes progress to a life threatening illness.   A child should be brought to the hospital emergency department if they have difficulty breathing (very fast or irregular breaths, flaring nostrils, wheezing, or use of accessory muscles- such as the ribs showing with each breath), cannot feed normally, turn blue or have skin that is pale and sweaty, or become very sleepy and are not easy to arouse.  

There is currently no vaccine to prevent RSV infection.  It is easily spread through coughing, sneezing, and by touching surfaces that have RSV on them and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.  You can help protect yourself and your family by following a few simple prevention tips:  wash your hands often, keep your hands off your face, avoid close contact with sick people, cover your coughs and sneezes, clean and disinfect surfaces, stay home when you are sick, and do not smoke in the home or around your baby.  

Murray County Medical Center Caring For You During the Holiday Season and All Year Long.