Being a mother to 2 school aged children & working full-time in healthcare, I am constantly reminded of germs. Like most mothers, I do everything I can do protect my children (as well as other children) by being extremely cautious every cold & flu season. But my school aged children & myself have a very strong immune system? Well, that doesn’t matter. I’m protecting my family so that I can protect other children from getting sick and spreading viruses, bacteria and other infection from one location to the next. RSV season starts every November and ends through March. Respiratory Syncytial Virus (or RSV) is a common, seasonal virus that affects 2/3 of all infants by age one and almost 100% of babies by age two. It is highly contagious and preterm babied are very susceptible to RSV. RSV can live on any surface for hours and can be spread from hugging, touching, sharing toys, napping in close quarters and in equipment like highchairs, car seats even strollers.
Wait a minute, you don’t have a preemie?
You may not, but other families do. So when your school aged child brings their seasonal virus to school, there is a good chance another child can be bringing the very same virus to their own younger sibling at home. This is exactly how the chain of virus and bacteria spreads! 82% of of children under the age of 6 has spent some time in daycare or a preschool setting. I know mine did! Many pre-schools & daycare facilities are extremely focused on creating a day care setting that was as germ-free as possible. Being a mother is hard. We make tough choices everyday & believe me, I know how hard it is when I have to call sick from my daytime job to keep my child home from school. But the choice I make not only effects my own family, it can affect other families as well.
RSV can cause mild to moderate cold-like symptoms, but some babies can develop serious respiratory infection. My God-son was born at 28 weeks and was 1 lb 13 oz. Since his lungs were not yet developed he had fewer antibodies than full-term babies. The risk of him contracting RSV was extremely likely. Although he did not contract RSV at any time (thanks to specific medication he was given in advance) he had a chance of having a mild case and then transmitting the virus to another child may not have been as fortunate as he was.That is why keeping our children home from school or daycare is extremely important when you consider how quickly infection and viruses can spread.
Signs of RSV:
~ Coughing or wheezing that does not stop
~ Fast or troubled breathing
~ Spread-out nostrils and/or a caved-in chest when trying to breathe
~ Bluish color around the mouth or fingernails
~ Fever (especially if it is over 100.4°F in infants under 3 months of age)
Important Facts About RSV:
~ Almost every baby will contract RSV by age 2, but only 1/3 of moms say they’ve heard of the virus.
~ Serious RSV infection is the leading cause of infant hospitalization, responsible for more than 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 500 infant deaths each year.
~ RSV occurs in epidemics each fall through spring. The CDC has defined “RSV season” as beginning in November and lasting through March for most parts of North America.
~ Certain babies are at an increased risk of developing serious RSV infection, so it’s important to speak with a pediatrician to determine if a baby may be at high risk for RSV & discuss prevention.
~ Symptoms of serious RSV infection include: persistent coughing or wheezing; rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths; blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails; high fever; extreme fatigue; and difficulty feeding. Parents should contact a medical professional immediately upon signs of these symptoms.
~ There is no treatment for RSV, so it’s important for parents to take preventive steps to help protect their child (wash hands, toys, bedding frequently; avoid crowds and cigarette smoke).
Please remember that there is no definite treatment for RSV. We as parents & caretakers need to work together to prevent the transmission of viruses & infection as much as possible. The key to preventing this virus is knowing what signs to look for, how to teach our older children good personal hygiene (like washing hands and covering our noses & mouth when we sneeze) as well as remembering to keep toys, clothes, blankets, and sheets clean as possible. Please try to avoid crowds and other areas that may have sick children during RSV season.
On a personal note, I do not work directly with children. I work with the elderly and they too have a much weaker immune system and far less antibodies than we as adults may have. I take the same precautions around them as I do my own children. Having a sick child is hard, but having a young infant or preemie with RSV is dangerous and scary. My god-son fought every day for his life as a preemie, I am so thankful that he didn’t have to fight even harder for something that could have been prevented by simple knowledge and prevention.
Visit www.RSVProtection.com and follow #RSVProtection on Twitter for more information.
Disclosure: The following post was written on behalf of Latina Bloggers Connect & #RSVProtection. All opinions & thoughts are my own.