Did you know that almost all kids are infected with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) at least once by the time they’re 2 years old? And that RSV infections often occur in epidemics that last from late fall through early spring? RSV usually lasts about a week, but some cases may last several weeks, it causes infection of the lungs and breathing passages and is a major cause of respiratory illness in young children such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
The challenge with preventing RSV is that in adults it will act like a common cold, such as a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, mild headache, cough, fever, and a general feeling of being ill so there’s the risk of overseeing this virus and not giving it the special attention required. In babies and kids with diseases that affect the lungs, heart, or immune system, RSV infections can lead to other more serious illnesses.
Unfortunately RSV is highly contagious and can be spread through the tiny droplets that one exudes when coughing or sneezing. It may live on surfaces such as counter-tops, doorknobs, toys, on hands and clothing. It’s so easy to spread when a person touches something contaminated and can spread rapidly through schools and childcare centers.
If you have babies, you must be extra careful because older kids, such as their own siblings, may carry the virus home from school and pass it to them.
RSV can be easily spread by touching infected people or surfaces but by washing your hands after having any contact with someone who has cold symptoms may help spread the virus. Also, keep your school-age child with a cold away from younger siblings — particularly infants — until the symptoms pass.
According to the Mayo Clinic, no vaccine exists for respiratory syncytial virus. But common-sense precautions can help prevent the spread of this infection:
Wash your hands frequently. Do so particularly before touching your baby, and teach your children the importance of hand-washing.
Avoid exposure. Limit your infant’s contact with people who have fevers or colds. This is especially important in premature babies and all infants in the first 2 months of life.
Keep things clean. Make sure countertops are clean in the kitchen and bathrooms, especially when someone in your family has a cold. Discard used tissues right away.
Don’t share drinking glasses with others. Use your own glass or disposable cups when you or someone else is sick. Label each person’s cup.
Don’t smoke. Infants who are exposed to tobacco smoke have a higher risk of contracting RSV and potentially more severe symptoms. If you do smoke, never do so inside the house or car.
Wash toys regularly. Do this especially when your child or a playmate is sick.
Help prevent RSV by sharing this information with anyone with small children, busy moms and anyone working at schools. Here are other ways you can help prevent RSV:
If you take your children to a daycare, offer cleaning the toys in the class. If one mom in each class did this weekly, we could prevent the virus from hitching a ride back to your house.
Donate cleaning supplies to teachers to use in their classrooms. My must have at home and in the office are the Clorox disinfecting wipes, they contain no bleach, come in different scents and very practical. You can find them in large canisters, medium tubes and even pocket size.
If your child has been diagnosed with RSV, please inform teachers immediately.
Talk to other parents and together collect money to buy new crayons for the class. Get rid of the all the crayons in the class and replace with the new ones.
Teach your kids at home to cover their mouth with the inner part of their elbow when sneezing or coughing and always have tissues handy. I recommend (and actually cannot live without) Kleenex Cool Touch, they are nephew approved too!