Friday, December 9, 2022

Questions and answers about respiratory syncytial virus or RSV

RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus, which causes infections in the lungs and respiratory system, especially in children. According to the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP), it is a highly contagious virus which can survive up to seven hours on (non-porous) surfaces.

How is RSV transmitted?

RSV is transmitted through the discharge from the nose and saliva droplets of the infected person, especially if they come into contact with the eyes or nasal or oral mucosa of the person who is not infected. According to the AEP, transmission usually occurs through direct contact, but it is also possible through the hands or through contact with contaminated objects.

Attention, therefore, when an infected person coughs or sneezes; if droplets of saliva from someone coughing or sneezing come into contact with the eyes, nose or mouth; if you touch a surface that may have come into contact with this virus, such as a doorknob, and then touch your face before washing your hands, and finally if you have direct contact with the virus (for example, kissing an infected person on the face).

What are the symptoms and possible consequences of RSV?

As the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes, symptoms of RSV infection, which develops four to six days after infection, include runny nose; reduced appetite; cough; sneezing; fever Y wheezinga whooshing, screeching sound during breathing that occurs as air moves through the narrowed airways in the lungs, as noted by Medline Plus from the United States Library of Medicine.

These symptoms usually appear in phases and not all at once. “In very young infants, the only symptoms may be irritability, decreased activity, and shortness of breath,” the CDC notes.

However, this virus is also “capable of causing large epidemics of bronchiolitis (swelling and accumulation of mucus in the bronchioles, the smallest airways in the lungs) and pneumonia (lung infection), which affect all ages, especially young children around the worldboth in developing and developed countries”, continues the association of paediatricians.

Mar Lopez Suredaprimary care pediatrician, indicates on TikTok some of the warning signs of possible RSV infection: that the child breathes badly (if the abdomen sticks out a lot, the ribs are marked, the nose flutters, the lips turn bluish and they stop eating and sleeping) or have a fever (if it continues for several days, consult a medical professional).

Regarding the treatment, there is no specific one for this infection, although most cases clear up in one to two weeks.

When is there a greater possibility of contagion of RSV?

One of the characteristics of RSV epidemics is their marked seasonal rhythmsince they only appear in the winter months: “It produces an annual epidemic from November to March with a maximum peak in mid-December,” he points out in a twitter thread the emergency pediatrician david andina.

How to avoid coming into contact with and becoming infected with RSV?

Andina offers parents a series of tips to protect children under one year of age (especially under three months) as much as possible: avoid being around people with respiratory symptoms; carry out a proper hand and surface hygiene and, if the caregivers are the ones with colds, wear a mask; Finally, if possible prevent children from going to kindergarten during those days.

For its part, the CDC adds that, once infected, the best way to manage a fever is with recommended medications for this purpose in addition to over-the-counter pain relievers (yes, never aspirin), always asking a health professional beforehand. . They also advise providing them with plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

Characteristics of respiratory syncytial virus

RSV is part of the Paramyxovirus family, to which the measles and mumps viruses also belong. It is a relatively large type of RNA virus (150-300 nm), with a very fragile double-layer envelope, according to the AEP.

Together with the rest of the paromyxoviruses, the RSV penetrates the respiratory system and produces acute infections that mainly affect the child population.

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