ALAN REED | The Sun
Dr. Elizabeth McGregor listens to Megan Burton's lungs. Respiratory Syncytial Virus is a major cause pneumonia and bronchitis in children.
A cough and a sniffle may not be just a common cold. They could be symptoms of respiratory syncytial virus.
Pediatrician Dr. Elizabeth McGregor of the Pediatric Group of Paducah at Western Baptist Hospital said symptoms seem similar to colds with coughs and a runny nose. RSV is caused by a different virus. It is especially dangerous to infants under age 2 months, as it can cause severe inflammation of the lungs. McGregor advises parents to keep newborns and premature children away from crowds and people with such symptoms.
“Kids who are sick with this virus are more susceptible to other illnesses,” McGregor said. “They can develop bacterial pneumonia and bronchitis, which will require treatment with antibiotics.”
McGregor said RSV can spread through droplets expelled through coughing and sneezing. She recommends regular use of hand sanitizer and cleaning toys and other shared items periodically with anti-bacterial wipes. Children should avoid contact with sick peers and adults. Bottles and pacifiers should not be shared among siblings.
“RSV does have an immunization, but it’s usually given to certain children, specifically those with chronic lung or heart problems or those born prematurely,” McGregor said. “If your infant is qualified, you should follow through with the immunization.”
McGregor said parents should bring their children to a doctor if they observe any respiratory distress, if the child’s appetite or thirst falls off or dthe child is not urinating frequently. If a child is not uncomfortable from fever, it should be ignored. If a child is suffering with the fever, McGregor advises using acetaminophen for children under 6 months of age, or a choice of acetaminophen or ibuprofen if older. Pediatricians and family practitioners also have a nasal swab to diagnose for RSV.
The primary concern about RSV is a copious amount of nasal drainage, McGregor said. She advises parents to try a saline flush to clear noses.
“On average, a case of RSV should be clear in 5 to 7 days,” McGregor said. “Some are more prolonged. Some younger children may go 10 days, and some may need a two-week hospitalization if they have other infections.”