What is Respiratory Syncytial Virus?
A syncytial virus is a multi-nucleated virus that results when multiple cells fuse together. The Human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes illnesses such as bronchiolitis, asthma, chronic respiratory tract infections and acute otitis media. It causes infections in the lungs and breathing passages. Respiratory syncytial virus in healthy adults may show as a mild cold. But in babies & younger children, it may cause grave illnesses.
People of any age may get infected by the Human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) but adults suffer a lower severity of infection. Infants and children with weakened immune systems suffer a high severity of RSV. Studies estimate that half the total population of children worldwide are infected with Human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) within two years of their birth.
Children who most likely to be infected with RSV include:
- Premature babies
- Babies 6 months and younger
- Toddlers younger than 2 years old with chronic lung disease or chronic heart disease
- Children with weakened immune systems
- Those with neuromuscular disorders, including those who have difficulty swallowing or clearing mucus secretions
Most children are infected by RSV before they are 2 years old. Most children only suffer a mild, cold-like illness, but some are stricken by severe illness such as:
- Bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung)
- Pneumonia (infection of the lungs)
Early identification & treatment may prevent serious illness. Respiratory syncytial virus symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Decrease in appetite
- Cough that may develop into wheezing
Symptoms in Babies Younger than 6 Months
- Decreased activity
- Decreased appetite
- Apnoea (pauses while breathing, especially during sleep)
The Respiratory Syncytial Virus precautions you need to observe:
- Wash your hands often
- Keep your hands off your face
- Avoid close contact with sick people
- Cover your coughs and sneezes
- Clean and disinfect surfaces
- Stay home when you are sick.
Scientists are working on a respiratory syncytial virus vaccine to prevent infection. Currently, doctors administer a medicine called palivizumab to very young babies if they are high risk of getting an RSV infection.