If you’ve seen parents sharing photos on social media, asking that people refrain from kissing their baby, doctors say that they have a sound reason for that.
As flu season approaches, local doctors are advising parents on what to look out for in their babies and how to protect them from contracting viral infections.
According to WebMD, RSV is often mistaken for cold since the virus starts out with mild symptoms, such as cough, stuffed nose, and low-grade fever. But, this virus can be much more serious, especially for children under six months or young children who have chronic diseases.
Respiratory syncytial virus is, in fact, the most common cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis in children younger than one year of age in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, RSV results in over 57,000 hospitalizations and 2 million outpatient visits each year among children under age 5.
Children that are at highest risk for developing serious illness from respiratory syncytial virus include those that:
– Have chronic lung or heart disease
– Were born prematurely
– Have neuromuscular disorders
– Have a weakened immune system
How to Spot the Symptoms of RSV Infection
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people infected with respiratory syncytial virus usually display symptoms within four to six days after contracting it, and they are usually contagious for three to eight days.
When RSV first begins, it may not be serious. However, it can become more serious a few days after a person contracts it as it may cause them to have breathing difficulties.
RSV often starts out with cold-like symptoms, such as: sneezing, coughing, runny nose, decrease in appetite, and fever. And in very young infants infected with the virus, the only symptoms may be decreased activity, irritability, and breathing difficulties.
When it comes to the breathing difficulties a child infected with RSV might have, fast breathing, flaring the nostrils, or pushing the belly in and out are all signs that your baby is having trouble breathing.
There isn’t specific treatment for RSV. You can manage pain and fever with pain relievers and fever reducers, but you should consult your healthcare provider before you give your child medicines.
According to WebMD, to prevent dehydration, breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby often. You should keep them comfortable, too, and to help them breathe more easily, clear out their nose with a nasal aspirator.
If your baby is lethargic, is struggling to breathe, or isn’t eating, they may need to be treated in a hospital. There they will be given fluids to keep them hydrated and oxygen to help them breathe.
How Can You Protect Your Child?
Respiratory syncytial virus is very contagious. It spreads when an infected person sneezes or coughs. You can get infected if you touch a surface which has the virus on it and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth before washing your hands.
According to WebMD, the best way to prevent your child from contracting RSV infection is with good hand hygiene. Throughout the day, often wash your hands as well as your child’s hands with soap and warm water. Additionally, clean countertops and other surfaces that can harbor germs.
Keep infected visitors away from your child and make sure healthy ones wash their hands before touching or kissing your child.
If your child is infected with RSV, make sure you keep them home from daycare or school so as to avoid spreading the infection to other children. Teach them to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue or their upper shirt sleeve, not their hands, whenever they sneeze or cough.
Also, don’t smoke around your child. Being exposed to tobacco smoke in the home will make your child more vulnerable to the RSV infection.
Last but not least, now that you know how susceptible infants are to RSV infection, next time you see a baby and think to yourself, “Oh, it’s so cute, I simply need to kiss it,” – please refrain from doing so.
I’ve seen pictures of other babies floating around the Internet with this caption. It’s one I can get behind. Almost…
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