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Children and RSV

February 5, 2009 4:13:55 PM PST
Viruses are common this time of year, but a new report says one virus that infects practically all infants at one time is more common amongst older children than previously believed. Dr. Jay Adlersberg showed us the report and explained how you can protect your children. Most parents have never heard of it, but every single pediatrician knows it well. RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus. For the tiniest of babies or for those with lung problems, RSV can require hospitalization or treatments to help the children breathe.

For most children, the virus is not dangerous, but extremely common and uncomfortable. This is unlike colds which affect the upper respiratory system, the nose and sinuses. RSV infects the lower respiratory system, the lungs, the trachea and the broncholi. It also causes symptoms like wheezing.

Dr. Richard Saphir and Dr. Kenneth Gottesman are both pediatricians who often see children with RSV.

Dr. Kenneth Gottesman with St. Luke's Hospital said, "The symptoms are more significant when they are lower respiratory tract when it causes mucus and wheezing."

Dr. Richard Saphir, a pediatrician at Mt. Sinai Hospital says, "It may start as a drippy nose, it may start as a fever, then it begins to sound like an asthmatic would sound with wheezing."

Thursday's report in the New England Journal of Medicine found that RSV is more common in the two to four year age group than was previously recognized.

Of the estimated two-million children under the age of 5 who require care for RSV infections annually, 78 percent, or three out of four, are over the age one ....3 out of 4...are over age one.

Doctors say the best method for fighting the virus is through prevention and that can be as easy as frequent hand washing.


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