Every fall, doctors’ offices and hospitals fill up with babies who are having trouble breathing, which means the annual respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) epidemic has begun.
The News & Observer spoke with Dr. David Weber, Deputy Chief Medical Officer of the University of North Carolina, Director of the School of Medicine and Medical Director of the Division of Infection Prevention, to learn more about respiratory syncytial virus, a common virus that affects many people in the fall and winter.
Here’s what you need to know about respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) symptoms, recovery time, and treatment.
What is respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)?
Respiratory syncytial virus is a common respiratory tract infection and a leading cause of respiratory disease worldwide. It is also a major cause of infections such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children.
The disease usually spreads from December to February, but this year the season started in October.
Anyone can contract the virus and become ill, but premature babies and the elderly are a particular problem. Most patients recover within a week.
Dr. Weber said that the rate of infection and death from RSV is similar to that of the flu, so the disease must be taken seriously.
How can you get respiratory syncytial virus?
Respiratory syncytial virus is an airborne disease transmitted through the environment. The virus multiplies at low temperatures and low humidity, such as in our current winter conditions.
Dr. Weber explained: “If you rub your nose and then touch something in the house and then touch the same place and rub my nose, I have a high chance of getting RSV.”
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is most commonly spread through coughing and sneezing. People infected with respiratory syncytial virus are usually contagious within three to eight days.
The virus can live on surfaces for up to six hours (but household disinfectants can kill it).
Therefore, good hygiene practices are recommended, including frequent hand washing and home disinfection.
What are the symptoms of respiratory syncytial virus?
UNC Health pediatrician Dr. Ricardo Baller said the illness usually starts with cold symptoms. This may include nasal congestion, runny nose, lack of appetite, coughing, sneezing, fever, headache (noticeable as irritation in young children), wheezing, and sore throat.
Dr. Baller explained: “The illness usually starts as a cold with a runny nose, nasal congestion and cough, and on the third or fourth day the patient may have wheezing and symptoms or signs of respiratory distress, and they may not be able to eat due to the high respiratory rate.” . They have trouble breathing.”
How long does it take to recover from respiratory syncytial virus? Is it necessary to visit a doctor?
Healthy children and adults recover from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in about a week without a prescription. Keeping hydrated is the most important step to recovery.
Health care providers may recommend breathing therapy with albuterol, which is given through a nebulizer to deliver the drug to the lungs. Dr. Baller said about 2% of patients need to be hospitalized for more intensive treatment.
The University of North Carolina requires that a doctor be called immediately if a baby with symptoms of RSV is younger than six months old, was born prematurely, has a chronic respiratory disease, or has a weakened immune system.
Is there a vaccine for RSV?
There is currently no vaccine to prevent respiratory syncytial virus. Dr. Weber said the two companies are currently testing some vaccines that could be approved by the FDA for the elderly by mid-2023.
And it will take longer for these vaccines to be approved for children.
Dr. Weber said that while there is no vaccine, there are antibody treatments that are particularly effective in young children. High-risk children can be given this medicine once a month during RSV season to prevent infection with the virus.
Source: Medical Express