Respiratory Syncytial Virus (cont.)
John Mersch, MD, FAAP
Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.
In this Article
- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection facts
- What is the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)?
- When does RSV infection occur, and who gets it?
- Who is at risk for severe disease?
- Is RSV infection contagious, and how is RSV infection transmitted?
- What are the symptoms of RSV infection?
- How is RSV infection diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for an RSV infection?
- How can RSV infection be prevented?
- Is there an RSV vaccine?
- What is the prognosis of a respiratory syncytial virus infection?
- Find a local Pediatrician in your town
What is the treatment for an RSV infection?
For children with mild RSV disease, no specific treatment is necessary other than the treatment of symptoms (such as acetaminophen [Tylenol] to reduce fever).
Children with more severe disease may require oxygen therapy and sometimes mechanical ventilation. Ribavirin aerosol (Virazole) may be used in the treatment of some patients with severe disease. Some investigators have used a combination of intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) with high titers of neutralizing RSV antibody (RSV-IVIG) and ribavirin to treat patients with compromised immune systems.
How can RSV infection be prevented?
Frequent hand washing and not sharing items such as cups, glasses, and utensils with people who have RSV illness should decrease the spread of virus to others.
Excluding children with colds or other respiratory illnesses (without fever) who are well enough to attend child care or school settings will probably not decrease the transmission of RSV, since it is often spread in the early stages of illness prior to the development of more severe symptoms.
In a hospital setting, RSV transmission can and should be prevented by strict attention to contact precautions, such as hand washing and wearing gowns and gloves.
In 1998, a new product called palivizumab (Synagis) was licensed to help prevent severe RSV disease in certain high-risk infants with predisposing factors such as moderate/severe prematurity, chronic lung disease, congenital heart disease, etc. Palivizumab is not a treatment for RSV but rather a tool to help prevent RSV infection. Those receiving Synagis receive a monthly injection during the RSV season.
Next: Is there an RSV vaccine?
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