Do you know about the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)?
It’s a virus that you can contract at any age. Most children are infected by two years of age, and reinfection is common. RSV is the most common cause of lower respiratory tract infection: bronchiolitis, bronchospasm, pneumonia, and acute respiratory failure in children younger than one year. Also, hospitalization rates are highest among children <6 months, which is why we need to be more careful with babies younger than six months of age.
Transmission of RSV
Direct contact is the most common route of transmission, but airborne droplets (coughing, sneezing) also have been involved. RSV can survive for several hours on hands and objects. Studies of transmission dynamics suggest that infection of infants most often follows infection of older siblings.
How can you prevent it?
- Nurse your baby, if possible, as breast milk will provide your baby with natural antibodies.
- Have all family members living with the child who are six months or older, receive their seasonal flu vaccine.
- Avoid crowded places (shopping centres, social gatherings, (parties, public transit, etc.)).
- Avoid any exposure to cigarette smoke.
- Avoid contact with people who have a cold or cough.
- If you have a cold, put on a mask before taking care of your baby. Masks can be purchased in most pharmacies.
- Always wash your hands with soap and water before taking care of your baby. If this is not possible, use a hand sanitizer, such as Purell®.
- Avoid kissing your child on the face if you have any cold symptoms.
- There is a special injection for RSV called palivizumab but it is only given to children at risk of severe RSV (mainly babies with heart or lung disease or those who were born very early). It has to be given every month during RSV season.
During this festive time, teach your loved ones how they can help you protect your baby. Encourage them to wash their hands and avoid kissing your baby’s face.
Keep your baby safe and enjoy the holidays! For any questions or concerns, Dialogue remains available.