Respirtory Syncytial Virus
Respiratory Syncytial Virus is the most common respiratory virus in infants and young children. It infects virtually all infants by the age of two years. In most infants the virus causes symptoms resembling those of the common cold. In infants born prematurely and/or with chronic lung disease, RSV can cause a severe or even life-threatening disease. Each year RSV disease results in over 125,000 hospitalizations, and about 2% or 2500 of these infants die. RSV is highly contagious. Each year, up to 50% of infants are infected. Transmission occurs by touching an infected person, and then rubbing one’s own eyes, nose, or mouth. The infection can also be spread through the air, by coughing and sneezing. RSV can survive for 4-7 hours on surfaces such as cribs and countertops. Transmission may be prevented by standard infection control practices, such as hand washing. RSV outbreaks occur each year on a fairly predictable schedule that varies from one region to another. In the United States the “RSV season” usually begins in the Fall and lasts through Spring. Treatment of severe RSV infection is mostly supportive. It is important to help insure that the infant is able to breathe, drink, eat and sleep comfortably. Hospitals are the most dangerous places for a person to contact almost any infection, because that is where we take our most severely infected people. After age two most people are exposed and naturally immunized. In addition to hand washing you may want to consider taking a shower and washing your clothes immediately after you arrive home from the hospital before you touch anything. As to protecting your children from exposure at school, that will be very hard to do. If they are over two years of age, they are probably already immune. Such infections are like bullies, they are dangerous primarily to those who are already weak. In my opinion, the thing which decreases the immunity of children (and adults) most profoundly is the ingestion of simple and refined carbohydrates. A stong immune system is the best protection one can have against any infectious disease.