What is Respiratory Syncytial Virus?

It is always the weak who are most vulnerable to infectious diseases as they do not have the strong immune system needed to fight off most infections. The elderly and young children and babies often get many illnesses but one to particularly watch for is RSV or respiratory syncytial virus.

RSV is a respiratory virus that attached both the upper and lower portions of the respiratory tract. The virus can start off small with minor cold or flu symptoms or develop into something more “hospital serious” with bronchiolitis or pneumonia. Some of the most common symptoms include cough, fever, lot of nasal drainage that runs clear and even poor appetite in babies as well as irritability.

Transmission of Respiratory Syncytial Virus

RSV is similar to other viruses in that it takes direct contact with the respiratory droplets that house the germs. Breathing in the same air as someone who sneezes and coughs is surefire way to contract the virus. In addition, because the virus can stay alive indefinitely on surfaces, you could even develop RSV after coming into contact with a contaminated surface and then touching your face near your eyes, nose or mouth.

Wintertime is the most common season when RSV occurs with early spring coming in a close second. It takes up to a week between exposure and symptoms cropping up. Unfortunately for infants, they can stay infectious for up to a month while older adults can spread the virus for about a week. For those with compromised immune systems, recurring health problems will be the likely result of RSV.

Treatment and Prevention of RSV

Because viruses cannot be treated successfully by antibiotics, there are other ways to treat RSV. The chance of dehydration is great so fluids are promoted. And because RSV affects the respiratory system, oxygen is often needed for easier breathing. For those individuals with a higher susceptibility, antiviral medications are often tried like Ribavirin.

RSV can be prevented through proper hand washing hygiene. Soap and water is best as long as you spend at least a minute lathering up and washing between fingers as well as beneath fingernails. In addition, proper disposal of tissues used to wipe and blow noses is essential. Another way to decrease the chance of RSV happening to you or your baby includes disinfecting childrens toys as well as common surfaces that everyone has the potential to touch.

Immune Globulin Treatments

While there is no vaccine for RSV at the moment, immune globulin is sometimes administered for high risk patients. This immune globulin helps boost body immunity with the production of new antibodies. There are some preventative treatments for RSV but only people who are highly susceptible to RSV typically get them.

While these preventative treatments don’t always halt the virus in its tracks, they do help your body produce antibodies to fight the infection. If you or your child is susceptible to respiratory illnesses, it would pay to ask your doctor about these treatments and avoid a trip to the hospital. RSV can be serious to the right people, so educate yourself about its dangers to both you and your kids.