Respiratory Syncytial Virus
The recent spread of the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) among children in Egypt has caused concern among doctors, adults, and the parents of children who have come into contact with the respiratory virus. RSV is a common respiratory virus that cause flu-like symptoms.
“RSV symptoms include fever, a runny nose, sore throat, bone aches, and coughing,” said Hossam Ashour, a consultant paediatrician at the Al-Galaa Teaching Hospital in Cairo.
The Covid-19 pandemic caused disruptions in the flu seasons over the last couple of years, leading to fewer cases of flu and RSV until recent months, Ashour added. During the pandemic, people used to wear masks, wash their hands, and self-isolate when sick. This meant that younger age groups were largely sheltered from common viruses.
“Now, as children are returning to day-care, schools, and other pre-pandemic activities, they are being exposed to these viruses again and have not developed the immunity to them that normally occurs,” Ashour said.
Unlike the flu and Covid-19, which have similar symptoms, there is no vaccine for RSV and no antiviral treatment. In most cases, RSV will go away on its own within a week if the fever is controlled and the patient takes Vitamin D, rests, and drinks plenty of fluids. But hospital care may be needed if severe symptoms occur.
Fortunately, most cases of RSV are mild and can be safely treated at home. Here are some at-home measures that will help to keep your family healthy and RSV at bay.
Leave from school:
As RSV cases continue to climb, it is increasingly important to keep your children at home if they get sick and to treat their symptoms.
Eating food rich with Vitamins D and C like eggs, milk, cheese, yoghurt, sweet potatoes, spinach, and dates or taking supplements can boost immunity. Nursing mothers should continue to breastfeed their children and consider boosting their own immune systems as well.
Children with RSV will often lose their appetite and eat less or not feel like eating at all. So, it’s important to keep them hydrated, especially if they are infants. Try using a nasal aspirator before feeding to improve food intake, but otherwise continue breastfeeding or bottle-feeding as normal. Fluids containing added electrolytes can also help to replenish minerals lost in perspiration and illness, in addition to soft foods and broth and soups, but in most cases, water is enough to maintain hydration.
Getting enough rest:
Rest is important, especially when your child is feeling tired as a result of RSV. Prioritising sleep, especially when your child is ill, will allow for a quicker recovery, so maintain a proper nap and bedtime schedule. Minimise physical activities, as when your child’s immune system is working on fighting off RSV the body needs time to recover.
It’s important to keep an eye on your child’s temperature, and a temperature over 38 degrees Celsius is a cause for concern and should be seen by a doctor. Keep the surrounding room warm but not overheated, and give your child ice packs when he’s feeling hot. In most cases, a fever will break on its own, but you can also use over-the-counter fever-reducers and pain-relievers to help manage the fever and reduce body aches. Never give aspirin to a child unless directed by a doctor.
RSV is a very contagious virus, and it can live on the hands for 30 minutes and on many surfaces for hours. Proper hand-washing and hygiene is important in halting the spread of RSV, as is disinfecting surfaces like door knobs, taps, and toys with natural cleansers. Bedding should also be washed more regularly. Minimise contact with older siblings that have been sick or are at pre-school. Avoid crowds and consider wearing masks. Have your older children kiss or touch a baby’s feet instead of their face. Do not share glasses or eating utensils.