Respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV, has been on the rise in the Mobile area in recent weeks with the number of hospitalizations of infants and young children rising.
RSV usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, and most people recover in a week or two, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Unfortunately, this common respiratory virus can be dangerous for some infants and younger children, particularly those:
- Born prematurely
- With weakened immune systems
- Younger than age two with chronic lung disease
- Born with congenital heart disease
RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis – an inflammation of the small airways in the lung – and pneumonia, which is an infection of the lungs, in children younger than one.
An estimated 58,000 children younger than five are hospitalized each year in the United States because of complications related to RSV infection. With treatment, most children improve.
As with other respiratory viral infections, RSV can present with symptoms similar to influenza, said Mukul Sehgal, M.D., a pediatric intensive care physician at USA Health Children’s & Women’s Hospital in Mobile.
Here are some symptoms to look out for with RSV in young children:
- Loss of appetite or fewer wet diapers
- Decreased activity
- For children younger than 12 months, breathing more than 50 times a minute
- For children one to two years old, breathing more than 40 times a minute
- Struggling to breathe normally
- A cough that can progress to wheezing
If your child is having difficulty breathing, contact your healthcare provider or seek medical attention.
For more information on RSV in children, watch an interview with Sehgal.