Did you know your baby’s common cold could be a highly contagious infection called RSV?
Colds are the most common infectious disease to affect humans. In the fall and winter months, millions of Americans sniffle their way through minor discomfort. A runny nose, cough, and slight trouble breathing are, therefore, not symptoms that typically worry the parents of a young child. But in babies and toddlers, these seemingly trivial symptoms can signal something far more dangerous: RSV.
What is RSV?
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a highly contagious virus that affects the human respiratory tract. The virus is so common that it has infected most children by the time they are two years old. In most people, the virus causes nothing more than a cold, but in a small percentage of babies and young children, it results in life-threatening bronchiolitis (inflammation of the airways) and pneumonia (infection of the lungs).
Why is RSV dangerous in babies?
RSV can have serious consequences in children under the age of 3 because they have very small airways. When attacked by the virus, an adult’s larger airways can easily accommodate the resultant swelling, but in small children, it can lead to life-threatening respiratory distress and pneumonia.
How common is RSV? Is RSV seasonal?
The CDC reports that in children under the age of 5, the virus leads to more than 50,000 hospitalizations and more than 2 million outpatient visits every year. The elderly are also at risk and RSV is responsible for about 14,000 deaths in older adults annually.
In North America, RSV infections primarily occur in the fall and winter months, beginning in October and tapering off by early April. As winter approaches, doctors see more and more cases of RSV in babies and young children, some of who are critically ill, requiring high-flow nasal cannula and mechanical ventilation support. It is estimated the virus is fatal in 300-400 children every year.
How can parents prevent RSV?
As a parent, you can take several steps to protect your baby from this highly contagious virus:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Regularly disinfect all hard surfaces in your home
- Keep your baby away from crowded locations such as malls
- Avoid kissing your baby when you have cold symptoms
RSV is a very common and potentially fatal infection. Its complications can quickly spiral out of control, as the family of Parker Benjamin Kohl well knows. Parker developed RSV when he was 5 months old, and following a series of unfortunate events including substandard care, suffered respiratory failure. Due to oxygen deprivation, Parker was left with permanent brain damage. He will need lifelong care and will never live a normal life. The Kohl family were awarded $9.4 million in a malpractice lawsuit.
So, parents beware! Your baby’s common cold could be RSV. If you think your baby’s pneumonia, RSV, or other serious condition was not diagnosed or treated promptly, schedule a free initial consultation with us today.