RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) is a common virus that causes infection of the lungs. For many children and adults who contract the virus, symptoms are much like that of a common cold. For babies, and especially children born prematurely, RSV can cause much more serious symptoms and illnesses (such as pneumonia) which may require hospitalization.
RSV is highly contagious, with outbreaks lasting from late fall to early spring. Because of its seriousness for children with weakened respiratory systems, it is important for parents of preemies to take extra precautions to protect their little ones.
The best ways to prevent RSV are similar to prevention methods for other viruses:
- Frequent hand washing
- Avoiding public spaces during cold and flu season
- limiting contact with school aged children (when possible)
- Keep household surfaces and toys clean
- Avoid second-hand smoke
Before discharge from the NICU, ask your child’s medical team if he or she qualifies for the RSV vaccine. The vaccine is given as a monthly injection during peak RSV season. In Ottawa, the infectious diseases clinic at CHEO contacts parents of eligible children to schedule your first appointment (usually in November) and from there you book your subsequent appointments.
For more information on RSV, please visit www.rsvsheild.ca