RSV. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Colds and viruses this time of year are so common but can be so scary, as well. My two little ones are in daycare part time and keeping them germ free is impossible. We had many problems with LA getting sick the past two years, but this year it seems to have gotten better. Poor Addy is the one that seems to get all of the viruses this year. I worry about her constantly. With my husband being a teacher and being around kids all day, every day, he’s become a frequent user of hand sanitizer in hopes of killing off germs so he won’t bring them home to the kids. Viruses and RSV are no joke.
It is estimated that 82% of U.S. children aged six weeks to six years old, spend some amount of time in child care. Whether it’s five or 50 hours a week, the risks of spending time in a daycare or pre-school setting are the same — increased exposure to contagious germs and viruses. Babies and toddlers have a lack of good personal hygiene. Not because they come from “dirty” families, but because they haven’t learned or fully understood the importance yet. Our little ones touch everything wipe their faces and noses and touch toys and food. It’s just what they do in their daily routines of discovering the world and not thinking about hygiene. Because their immune systems are not fully developed yet this can be especially worrisome for pre-term babies in daycare, or with school-aged siblings who bring germs into the home.
Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common, seasonal virus that affects two-thirds of all infants by age one and almost 100% of babies by age two, because it’s highly contagious. RSV can live on surfaces (doorknobs, countertops, toys, bedding) for several hours and is often spread through touching, hugging and kissing. Daycare increases this risk of RSV spreading as children are constantly sharing toys, tables and high chairs as well as eating and napping in close quarters.
RSV typically causes mild to moderate cold-like symptoms, but in some babies it results in a serious respiratory infection. Those most at risk for severe RSV include premature infants, as their lungs aren’t fully developed and they have fewer infection-fighting antibodies than full-term babies.
The RSV season typically runs from November through March, so during the winter months parents should be especially careful to watch for signs of RSV. Below are symptoms of severe RSV infection that require immediate medical care:
· Coughing or wheezing that does not stop
· Fast or troubled breathing
· Spread-out nostrils and/or a caved-in chest when trying to breathe
· Bluish color around the mouth or fingernails
· Fever (especially if it is over 100.4°F in infants under 3 months of age)
A few facts about RSV that all parents, caregivers and loved ones should know:
- Almost every baby will contract RSV by age 2, but only 1/3 of moms say they’ve heard of the virus.
- Serious RSV infection is the leading cause of infant hospitalization, responsible for more than 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 500 infant deaths each year.
- RSV occurs in epidemics each fall through spring. The CDC has defined “RSV season” as beginning in November and lasting through March for most parts of North America.
- Certain babies are at an increased risk of developing serious RSV infection, so it’s important to speak with a pediatrician to determine if a baby may be at high risk for RSV, and discuss preventive measures.
- Symptoms of serious RSV infection include: persistent coughing or wheezing; rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths; blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails; high fever; extreme fatigue; and difficulty feeding. Parents should contact a medical professional immediately upon signs of these symptoms.
Tips for preventing RSV:
- Wash hands and your children’s hands frequently.
- avoid crowds and cigarette smoke.
- Ask visitors to wash their hands before holding baby.
- Wash toys, clothing and bedding frequently.
Visit www.RSVProtection.com and follow #RSVProtection on Twitter for more information.