Respiratory Syncytial Virus or (RSV)
RSV is an acronym used for Respiratory Syncytial Virus. RSV is a very common, seasonal virus that can affect anyone. For older children and adults, the symptoms are usually a runny nose, cough, and fever, very similar to the common cold. RSV can be a very serious viral infection for infants that are at high-risk of developing complications from RSV.
These high risk patients include, but are not limited to:
- Premature babies (born at 35 weeks or less)
- Babies born with heart or chronic lung disease
RSV season typically occurs from November to March, but may vary depending on where you live.
These high risk infants can develop bronchiolitis, croup, ear infections, and pneumonia. Symptoms of a severe RSV infection might include:
- A persistent cough
- Wheezing and difficulty breathing
- A bluish color around the mouth and fingernails
- High fever (>100.4ºF rectally)
- If any of these symptoms occur, please call your pediatrician immediately.
Prevention is key when dealing with RSV, especially for premature babies. The best thing you and any caregivers can do is frequently wash your hands. Also wash anything that your child might put in their mouth (i.e. toys). Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick or who smokes.
For high risk babies, your physician may recommend that your baby receives Synagis (palivizumab), a shot that helps protect them from RSV. Synagis is available as an intramuscular injection. Synagis is not a vaccine, rather, it provides antibodies to help prevent RSV from invading your baby’s lungs.
Synagis only lasts for 28-30 days, therefore, needs to be given monthly. Make sure you do not fall behind the monthly schedule when receiving Synagis treatments. The dose is based on your baby’s weight, so it might change as she grows. Unlike other RSV treatments, Synagis is not a blood product and will not interfere with the rest of your child’s regular immunizations.
If your child is hospitalized from RSV, they will receive Synagis before discharge. Synagis may also be available from you pediatric pulmonologist or pediatrician.