RSV on the Rise: What You Need To Know To Keep Your Children Safe

It’s easy to focus on COVID-19 when it comes to protecting our children from sickness; however, it is not the only danger they face from potentially harmful viruses. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there has been a notable increase in RSV infections and RSV-related emergency room visits in the U.S. RSV is a terrible upper respiratory virus marked by very thick mucus. For adults, RSV is normally just a bad cold, but for babies, especially premature babies, the congestion, runny nose, and mucus associated with RSV could have potentially harmful effects.

“The younger you are, the more at risk you are for complications,” said board certified pediatrician, Joseph A. Baust Jr., MD, FAAP of TPMG James River Pediatrics. For newborns who haven’t received all their vaccinations, viruses like COVID-19 and RSV could potentially leave them weak and vulnerable to developing bacterial pneumonia and other infections. RSV in particular can be harmful to infants because their lungs are less developed and their bodies aren’t strong enough yet to fight off the buildup of mucus, which can make it difficult to breathe. According to the CDC, RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia for children younger than 1 year of age, both of which can lead to hospitalization in infants and newborns.

Typically, pediatricians see RSV infections during the fall and winter time; however, the amount of infections this fall is higher than normal. The CDC reported over 8,000 new detections from November 13th through the 19th alone. Although the threat of RSV for children is serious, parents cannot let it stop them from living their lives with their children. Fortunately, the methods for protecting yourself and your children from RSV are very similar to those for any virus. Make sure you cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands and your child’s hands, clean surfaces thoroughly, avoid close contact (hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing cups/utensils, etc.) with others, and keep on the lookout for symptoms of RSV.

RSV can present like a run-of-the-mill cold at first, with cough and congestion, but if your see these symptoms worsen it may be time to start thinking about seeing a doctor. If, over the course of two or three days, your child’s cough worsens, congestion thickens, appetite diminishes, or they run a fever for more than two days, these are signs it may be more serious. Younger babies and infants might not want to nurse, due to a buildup of mucus in the nose making it hard to breathe. These are all signs you should probably consult a physician. Seek medical attention at a hospital if you notice your child has difficulty breathing.

“I’m a big believer in parent’s intuition,” said Dr. Baust. If you suspect something is wrong with your child, trust your intuition and consult with a pediatrician. Schedule an appointment with a TPMG pediatrician today to learn more about RSV and other harmful viruses.

Dr. Joseph Baust

Joseph A. Baust Jr., MD, FAAP, is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Baust practices at TPMG James River Pediatrics in Newport News with Dr. Carol Steiner and Lee Gotthardt, FNP-C, where they offer complete medical service to infants, children and young adults to the age of 21 years. To schedule an appointment at TPMG James River Pediatrics or for further information, call (757) 595-3570.

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