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What you need to know about RSV — Boston Children’s Answers


A girl sneezes into a tissue.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes infections of the upper and lower respiratory tract, most commonly in children and infants. But anyone can catch it. (Image: Adobe Stock, Patrick Bibbins, Boston Children’s Hospital)

respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) It has been making headlines in recent months as pediatric cases are on the rise. To protect your family’s safety and information, we have said: Dr. Kathleen ConroyClinical Chief Children’s Hospital Primary Care Center (CHPCC)about symptoms and care options to know.

What is RSV and what are the symptoms?

RSV is a virus that causes upper and lower respiratory tract infections, most commonly found in children and infants. But anyone can catch it. RSV cases are generally bronchiolitis (inflammation of the lower respiratory tract) and pneumonia For children under the age of 2.

“Most people have probably had RSV, and if you have school-aged children, it’s very likely that you’ve also had RSV,” says Dr. Conroy. “Most of the time, children are unaware that they have RSV, mainly because it looks and manifests like a bad cold.”

Common symptoms, especially in younger children and infants, include:

  • lots of clear runny nose
  • cough with wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • heat
  • loss of appetite
  • Malaise
  • fast, labored breathing in infants

After being in contact with someone who has RSV, your child may not experience symptoms until 4-6 days later. “Like other colds and viruses, it can take days to develop symptoms after being infected, and then a child can be contagious with him for a week or more,” Dr. Conroy explains. . “But with RSV, the symptoms associated with this can last up to two weeks, so don’t be surprised if your child has been coughing for up to 10 days.”

How can I tell if my child has RSV?

If RSV comes on like a cold, how do you know if your child has RSV? Probably not, unless specifically tested by a doctor.

“The reason we are seeing so many cases of RSV this year is both because there seem to be more cases in general, and because more respiratory tests are being done than last year, and as a result, how many “We can track whether we’re able to track the children who are testing positive for RSV,” says Dr. Conroy. “If your child or infant is having trouble breathing or isn’t eating normally, don’t wait to take him to the hospital.”

How does RSV spread?

RSV generally spreads from person to person after touching something an infected person has touched. Common places a child picks up her RSV include daycare centers, preschools, or likely to share things or touch things that others have touched (doorknobs, toys, etc.) Including crowded places.

How can I protect my child from RSV?

“The fewer people a child comes into contact with, the less likely they are to catch the virus, but that’s not a realistic way of life,” Dr. Conroy explains. “Most of us have to send our children to daycare, so there is no point in blaming yourself if your child catches the virus.”

However, Dr. Conroy recommends that if your child is willing to wear a mask while outside or visiting crowded places, they should wash their hands frequently with soap and water and avoid unnecessary travel (such as busy shopping malls and museums). etc.).The chances of getting a virus are much lower. “Although RSV is primarily spread by touching infected surfaces, wearing a mask can prevent children from touching their eyes, ears, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.”

Is there a cure for RSV?

Because RSV is a virus, antibiotics do not help treat symptoms. Most cases of RSV can be treated at home, but very few cases lead to hospitalization. “When treating her RSV at home, make sure the child stays hydrated, misses school or daycare, and is in case breathing becomes more difficult or seems to be struggling. and monitor your breathing.”

When should I see a doctor?

Infants naturally tend to breathe faster, says Dr. Conroy, but you can see if they’re breathing in a more difficult or labored way by lifting their shirt and looking at their chest. “Sometimes parents say they can see their child’s ribs when they breathe in, or see where the edge of the ribcage is, or they can see the nostrils widening. These things. If it lasts longer than 20-30 seconds, it’s usually a sign your baby is having trouble breathing and needs help.”

A second reason why infants should be seen is if their intake of normal milk sources has decreased. If your baby hasn’t wet her diaper for 6-8 hours, you should call your doctor’s office.

There is currently no vaccine for RSV, so the best prevention is for children to wash their hands frequently, avoid touching their face, and avoid crowded places if possible.

For more information on RSV, please visit: CDC website For more information on symptoms and prevention.




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