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RSV Infection: What Texas Parents Need To Know This RSV Season
Last month, over 30% of Texan babies needing medical care for respiratory issues tested positive for a common seasonal virus, respiratory syncytial virus or RSV. As Dr. Matthew Wigder explained in a previous post about RSV, it’s a common seasonal virus, which infects nearly all children by the age of two. But did you know that RSV is actually the leading cause of infant hospitalization? As an ICU specialist, I frequently see babies hospitalized from RSV infection. Despite being so common, many parents aren’t aware of RSV. Most older children exhibit symptoms often indistinguishable from a bad cold or flu. However, for young infants or those with special problems, RSV can become severe or even life threatening.
- Be aware of “RSV Season:” In Texas, the season typically starts in late November and lasts through late March. RSV season varies by geography and from year-to-year, however, so you should ask your pediatrician for information on local trends.
- Understand if your baby is at high risk: While all babies have the potential to develop an infection from the virus, there are a few factors that can increase your child’s risk of developing severe RSV-related infection.
- being born prematurely (under 37 weeks gestation)
- having chronic lung disease,
- and being born with certain types of heart disease.
- Take steps to prevent RSV infection: RSV is very contagious and can be spread easily through touching, sneezing and coughing. Additionally, the virus can live for hours on surfaces such as tissues, countertops and toys. For this reason, it’s important to take steps to protect all babies from contracting the virus, including frequently washing hands, toys and bedding, and avoiding crowds. Additionally it’s important for parents whose healthy babies contract RSV to avoid the spread of the virus to babies who may be more vulnerable.
- Know the symptoms of serious RSV infection: Even if your child isn’t at increased risk for RSV, you should still take symptoms seriously. If left unattended, RSV can result in more alarming symptoms than those resembling the common cold.
- Severe coughing or wheezing
- Difficulty breathing or rapid, gasping breaths
- Blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails
- High fever
- Difficulty feeding or decreased intake of liquids