What you need to know about RSV

What you need to know about RSV

It’s September, the kids are all back in school and winter is fast approaching.  With it comes every illness parents dread.  The sickness bugs, colds, coughs and flu.  For me, September heralds the start of RSV season.

Two years ago I had never even heard of RSV (Respiratory Syncitial Virus) but now it has touched our lives in such a way that we will never forget its existence nor underestimate its power. 

In December 2015, 6 weeks after being admitted to hospital in Congestive Heart Failure, Enfys had open heart surgery. The usual procedure after such surgery is 24-48 hours on a ventilator then extubation.  We were very much looking forward to having Enfys off the ventilator by Christmas day.  What we didn’t realise was that shortly before surgery Enfys contracted RSV but didn’t test positive until the day after surgery.  By then, it was too late, the surgery had already flushed the few antibodies she did have and as a result her recovery took much longer.   She was ventilated for almost 3 weeks.  Her lungs collapsed.  Her body did not know how to recover. 

Thankfully, she did make a full recovery.  It has left her more susceptible to chest infections.

RSV is very serious and, for some babies and children, it can be fatal. 

What you should know about RSV

  • RSV is also known as Respiratory Syncytial Virus.
  • RSV is spread the same way as many other viruses through coughing, sneezing, drooling etc.
  • RSV can survive on a surface, outside the body, for 24 hours.
  • An infected child can remain infectious even after their symptoms have gone.

Symptoms of RSV

RSV Bronchiolitis is usually at its worst between days 3 & 5. 

Symptoms you should look out for are:

  • A cough, cold and runny nose.
  • Rasping, dry cough
  • Rapid and noisy breathing
  • Brief pausing between breaths
  • Feeding less
  • Vomiting after feeding
  • Being Irritable

While the symptoms are generally mild you should see medical advice if you child:

  • is struggling to breath
  • has taken less than half their usual amount of feed
  • has had no wet nappies
  • has very rapid breathing
  • has a temperature of 38*C or more.

You know your child best so if you are concerned at all, don’t hesitate to visit the Dr. 

What can you do to prevent it spreading?

You cannot stop the spread of RSV, but you can attempt to reduce the likelihood of your child catching or spreading RSV.

  • Cover your child’s nose and mouth when they sneeze or cough.
  • Throw away tissues once they have been used.
  • Practice good hand hygiene.
  • Encourage visitors to wash their hands.
  • Clean eating utensils, toys and surfaces regularly and thoroughly.
  • Keep infected child at home until they are well.
  • Keep newborn babies away from anyone showing symptoms of colds and flu.

Protecting the most vulnerable in our society is not only the responsibility of their carers but the responsibility of us all.  Keep your child home away from other children if they are ill.  Another child may look perfectly healthy but you do not know what battles they are fighting. 

RSV Infographic

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