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RSV VIRUS

Description:
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes infections of the lungs and respiratory tract. It’s so common that most children have been infected with the virus by age 2. Respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-ul) virus can also infect adults.

In adults and older, healthy children, RSV symptoms are mild and typically mimic the common cold. Self-care measures are usually all that’s needed to relieve any discomfort.

RSV can cause severe infection in some people, including babies 12 months and younger (infants), especially premature infants, older adults, people with heart and lung disease, or anyone with a weak immune system (immunocompromised).

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Symptoms:
Signs and symptoms of RSV infection most commonly appear about four to six days after exposure to the virus. In adults and older children, RSV usually causes mild cold-like signs and symptoms. These may include:

*Congested or runny nose
*Dry cough
*Low-grade fever
*Sore throat
*Sneezing
*Headache

IN SEVER CASES:
RSV infection can spread to the lower respiratory tract, causing pneumonia or bronchiolitis — inflammation of the small airway passages entering the lungs. Signs and symptoms may include:

*Fever
*Severe cough
*Wheezing — a high-pitched noise that’s usually heard on breathing out (exhaling)
*Rapid breathing or difficulty breathing — the person may prefer to sit up rather than lie down
*Bluish color of the skin due to lack of oxygen (cyanosis)

Infants are most severely affected by RSV. Signs and symptoms of severe RSV infection in infants include:

*Short, shallow and rapid breathing
*Struggling to breathe — chest muscles and skin pull inward with each breath
*Cough
*Poor feeding
*Unusual tiredness (lethargy)
*Irritability

Most children and adults recover in one to two weeks, although some might have repeated wheezing. Severe or life-threatening infection requiring a hospital stay may occur in premature infants or in anyone who has chronic heart or lung problems.

RSV and COVID-19:
Because RSV and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are both types of respiratory viruses, some symptoms of RSV and COVID-19 can be similar. In children, COVID-19 often results in mild symptoms such as fever, runny nose and cough. For adults with COVID-19, symptoms may be more severe and may include trouble breathing.

Having RSV may lower immunity and increase the risk of getting COVID-19 — for kids and adults. And these infections may occur together, which can worsen the severity of COVID-19 illness.

FOR ALL SYMPTOMS OF RESPIRATORY SICKNESS, COVID-19 TEST IS RECOMENDED

Causes:
Respiratory syncytial virus enters the body through the eyes, nose or mouth. It spreads easily through the air on infected respiratory droplets.One can be infected with RSV if he or she inhels the droplets of cough or sneeze of a infected person. The virus also passes to others through direct contact, such as shaking hands.

The virus can live for hours on hard objects such as countertops, crib rails and toys. Touch your mouth, nose or eyes after touching a contaminated object and you’re likely to pick up the virus.

An infected person is most contagious during the first week or so after infection. But in infants and those with weakened immunity, the virus may continue to spread even after symptoms go away, for up to four weeks.

Risk factors:
By age 2, most children will have been infected with respiratory syncytial virus, but they can get infected by RSV more than once. Children who attend child care centers or who have siblings who attend school are at a higher risk of exposure and reinfection. RSV season — when outbreaks tend to occur — is the fall to the end of spring.

People at increased risk of severe or sometimes life-threatening RSV infections include:

*Infants, especially premature infants or babies who are 6 months or younger
*Children who have heart disease that’s present from birth (congenital heart disease) or chronic lung disease
*Children or adults with weakened immune systems from diseases such as cancer or treatment such as chemotherapy
*Children who have neuromuscular disorders, such as muscular dystrophy
*Adults with heart disease or lung disease
*Older adults, especially those age 65 and older

Complications:
Complications of respiratory syncytial virus include:

*Hospitalization. A severe RSV infection may require a hospital stay so that doctors can monitor and treat breathing problems and give intravenous (IV) fluids.

*Pneumonia. RSV is the most common cause of inflammation of the lungs (pneumonia) or the lungs’ airways (bronchiolitis) in infants. These complications can occur when the virus spreads to the lower respiratory tract. Lung inflammation can be quite serious in infants, young children, older adults, immunocompromised individuals, or people with chronic heart or lung disease.

*Middle ear infection. If germs enter the space behind the eardrum, you can get a middle ear infection (otitis media). This happens most frequently in babies and young children.

*Asthma. There may be a link between severe RSV in children and the chance of developing asthma later in life.

*Repeated infections. Once you’ve had RSV, you could get infected again. It’s even possible for it to happen during the same RSV season. However, symptoms usually aren’t as severe — typically it’s in the form of a common cold. But they can be serious in older adults or in people with chronic heart or lung disease.

DIAGNOSIS AND TESTS:
The healthcare provider will take your or your child’s medical history and ask about symptoms. The physical exam will include listening to your or your child’s lungs and checking oxygen level in a simple finger monitoring test (pulse oximetry). They may order blood testing to check for signs of infection (such as a higher than normal white blood cell count) or take a nose swab to test for viruses.

If more severe illness is suspected, your healthcare provider will order imaging tests (X-rays, CT scan) to check your or your child’s lungs.

If you or your child has mild symptoms, prescription treatment is usually not needed. RSV goes away on its own in one to two weeks. Antibiotics are not used to treat viral infections, including those caused by RSV. (Antibiotics may be prescribed, however, if testing shows you or your child has bacterial pneumonia or other infection.)

Some young children who develop bronchiolitis may have to be hospitalized to receive oxygen treatment. If your child is unable to drink because of rapid breathing, he or she may need to receive intravenous fluids to stay hydrated. On rare occasions, infected babies will need a respirator to help them breathe. Only about 3% of children with RSV require a hospital stay. Most children are able to go home from the hospital in two or three days.

If you are an older adult and especially if you have a weakened immune system, you may need to be hospitalized if the RSV is severe. While in the hospital, you may receive oxygen or be put on a breathing machine (ventilator) to help your breathe or receive IV fluids to help with dehydration.

Treatment:
Currently, there is no cure for RSV. However, scientists continue to learn about the virus and look for ways to prevent the infection or better manage severe illness.

If you or your child has mild symptoms, prescription treatment is usually not needed. RSV goes away on its own in one to two weeks. Antibiotics are not used to treat viral infections, including those caused by RSV. (Antibiotics may be prescribed, however, if testing shows you or your child has bacterial pneumonia or other infection.)

Some young children who develop bronchiolitis may have to be hospitalized to receive oxygen treatment. If your child is unable to drink because of rapid breathing, he or she may need to receive intravenous fluids to stay hydrated. On rare occasions, infected babies will need a respirator to help them breathe. Only about 3% of children with RSV require a hospital stay. Most children are able to go home from the hospital in two or three days.

If you are an older adult and especially if you have a weakened immune system, you may need to be hospitalized if the RSV is severe. While in the hospital, you may receive oxygen or be put on a breathing machine (ventilator) to help your breathe or receive IV fluids to help with dehydration.

PROGNOSIS:
Most cases of RSV in adults and healthy children will not require treatment. Infants and older adults at greatest risk of severe RSV can develop pneumonia or bronchiolitis or experience a worsening of their existing heart and lung conditions and may require hospitalization.

Preventions:
You can follow the same precautions that one follows if they have the cold, flu or any other contagious disease:

*Wash your hands often. Wash for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. (Alcohol-based rubs work well for young children who don’t have the coordination or attention span for proper hand washing technique.)

*Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to prevent the spread of viruses from your hands.

*Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing and coughing or sneeze and cough into your elbow. Throw the tissue in the trash. Wash your hands afterward. Never cough or sneeze into your hands!

*Avoid close contact (within 6 feet) with those who have known RSV, coughs, colds or are sick. Stay home if you are sick.

*Don’t share cups, toys or bottles, or any objects. Viruses may be able to live on such surfaces for hours (and be transmitted to your hands).

If you are prone to sickness or have a weakened immune system, stay away from large crowds of people.

*Clean frequently used surfaces (such as doorknobs and counter tops) with a virus-killing disinfectant.

Additional tips for children:

*Keeping your children home from day care when they or other children become ill.

*If you have a child at high risk of developing severe RSV, try to limit time at child care centers or gatherings of large number of children during the RSV season.

*Wash toys frequently.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/respiratory-syncytial-virus/symptoms-causes/syc-20353098
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/8282-respiratory-syncytial-virus-in-children-and-adults

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