The Respiratory Syncytial Virus , abbreviated to VRS or RSV, is a pathogen that affects the respiratory tract and is widespread and quite common also in Italy. It generally spreads during the cold season, infects patients of all ages but can become dangerous in children in the first years of life. Let’s see what are the most evident symptoms, how the infection occurs and how it is treated.
What is Syncitial Respiratory Virus
It is a pathogen that infects the respiratory tract and for children in the first years of life it can be very dangerous because it can cause acute bronchiolitis , pneumonia , severe respiratory distress and even death. In Italy, the epidemic period is generally reported between October and March, with a peak in the months of January and February.
Statistically it is considered the most frequent cause of respiratory tract infection in children under 2 years of age and is the leading cause of hospitalization under the first year of age.
How do you get infected
Mainly through the secretions of the nose, mouth and eyes . In practice, if an infected person coughs or sneezes, even very small droplets that contain the virus are released into the air. If these particles are inhaled or are deposited on the mouth, nose and eyes, then the infection occurs.
Furthermore, the VRS manages to survive several hours on surfaces, so the infection can also occur if you touch your nose or eyes with your hands after touching objects on which the virus is present. The incubation period is approximately 3-5 days. Infants with lower respiratory tract disease remain contagious for about 5-12 days.
Symptoms of RSV
The symptoms of respiratory syncytial virus are similar to the common cold, so in case of infection of the upper respiratory tract will have sneezing, coughing, sore throat, fever , rhinitis . However, if the infection reaches the lower airways and lungs it can cause acute bronchiolitis or pneumonia , inflammations that can be dangerous especially in young children.
How to recognize the Syncytial Respiratory Virus
Pediatric experts recommend that you stay alert and notice the alarm bells that are the clear manifestation of the disease. That is, loss of appetite, apnea, wheezing , rapid and labored breathing ( emphysema ). In severe cases, visible indentations are noted in the chest and the dimple between the neck and the sternum becomes much more marked.
How to treat RSV
Most patients do not require hospitalization and therapy is aimed at relieving symptoms with analgesics . It is also important to prevent dehydration with fluid intake. But in the case of children with respiratory difficulties, they must be hospitalized.
Depending on the condition, doctors can treat them with oxygen and intravenous therapies. In babies with compromised or severely weakened immune systems, an antiviral drug (ribavirin) is often used. There are currently no vaccines for this type of pathogen.