As a parent, it can feel like there’s always one more thing to worry about! With the recent spike in nationwide cases of RSV infections in babies and children, you’re likely wondering what you need to know about RSV. Here’s a quick overview to put your mind at ease.
What is RSV?
First off, let’s understand what we’re talking about. RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) is a very common respiratory virus – one of the most common childhood illnesses. It targets small air pathways in the lungs. RSV is highly contagious, spreading through close contact with infected persons. It can be transmitted through coughs or sneezes, as well as through hard surfaces like doorknobs.
RSV Infections – Who gets sick?
Short answer- almost everyone gets RSV! Most children have had RSV by the time they’re two years old. Adults can also easily get RSV but may show no symptoms or just feel like they have a normal cold. Early symptoms of RSV include:
- Runny nose
- Decrease in appetite
- Coughing, which may escalate to wheezing or difficulty breathing
If your baby is having difficulty breathing, not drinking/eating well, experiencing worsening symptoms, or otherwise exhibiting behavior that concerns you (you know your baby best!), call your pediatrician for guidance.
How worried should I be about RSV?
RSV is something to take seriously – but in most cases, it should not be cause for panic. The majority of babies and children who contract RSV will recover safely at home with comforting care. However, one to two out of every hundred children under 6 months of age will require hospital care to recover from RSV. As always, the younger your baby is, the more cautious you will want to be.
Those at greatest risk from RSV include premature infants, infants younger than 6 months old, children with weakened immune systems or neuromuscular disorders, and children younger than two years with lung or heart disease.
How do I keep my baby from getting sick?
The same general good hygiene practices that you likely already practice around your small baby will help to minimize the risk of contracting RSV. Those include frequent hand washing, avoiding close contact with sick people, cleaning potentially germy surfaces, covering your coughs and sneezes, and avoiding public areas when sick.
As a parent myself, I know how scary it can be to have a new baby that you want to protect! You’re probably doing all of the right things to keep your baby as safe as possible – just keep an eye out for early symptoms in your baby, yourself and others – and never hesitate to seek out your pediatrician’s help for meeting your child’s specific needs.
ps – When your child does get their first runny nose or cold (don’t feel bad – it’s inevitable!), I hope you’ll check out our oogiebear tools to help them (and you) breathe easier.
Learn more about RSV in Infants here:
RSV in Infants and Young Children | CDC