*Editorial Note: This story was originally published on Nov. 20, 2019.
It is the peak of the flu and cold season, and while many people around you may be coughing and sneezing, there are ways to prevent getting sick. The best way to stay healthy is by washing your hands constantly.
There is a virus on the rise that can be dangerous for infants. Doctors say if you feel sick or are sick, do not kiss or get near babies.
Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus that may seem like an everyday cold.
Tiffany Hill, a pediatrician with UT Health East Texas says anyone can get RSV, but infants under six months old are most vulnerable to the virus. “In the younger children, it can be more serious and cause a lot of issues and even hospitalizations,” Hill said.
The symptoms are similar to a common cold such as:
- Runny nose
- Wet cough
However, there’s a difference between RSV and the cold, “respiratory syncytial virus just causes a lot more inflammation and secretions in the airway then some of the other typical viruses.” Hill said.
RSV can last between three to four weeks much longer than the cold.
There’s no treatment for the virus, but there are many things parents can do to get their child feeling better. “It's really symptomatic care. So fluids, humidifier, saline washes,” said Hill.
All of this will help an infant breathe and clear their nasal passage. Also making sure a baby stays hydrated is very important.
If your child gets tested positive for RSV and they are not getting better, take them back to the doctor to get reevaluated.
Hill says she sees infants with RSV all the time during this time of year. “There is such a severe case that, you know, they'll get transferred to Dallas and they end up being intubated, and then they just cannot air it, those lungs and the babies will pass away,” Hill said.
This is why it’s crucial for parents to make sure they practice good hygiene to prevent the virus from infecting their little ones.
Hill says the virus can live on hard surfaces for several hours and suggests to wipe down from counter tops to shopping carts at the store. She also suggests that parents get vaccinated along with their infants.
“If you have a younger infant, you're really the stopping point for the illness, so I really recommend the parents you know, take that and get vaccinated or any caregivers and then again, just reiterating really good handwashing,” Hill said.
Using hand sanitizer is another thing to keep on hand to kill away any germs.
Another way to prevent your child from getting the virus is to be cautious of who has contact with them. If you, a relative or a friend feel sick or is sick, Hill says to avoid any physical contact. “It really is better for the baby, so you can shed the virus for really three to eight days after being sick,” said Hill.
There are RSV vaccines, however, Hill says it’s limited to only children under the age of two who have chronic lung disease or heart disease, or infants born 28 weeks or under.