What is RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus)?

RSV virus, ie Respiratory Syncytial Virus; While it causes flu and cold-like complaints, it threatens the lungs when its treatment is delayed. The virus, which causes life-threatening respiratory infections in all age groups, especially in infants and the elderly, attracts attention with the increase in its incidence in recent years. All children become ill with RSV at least once until the age of 2, and recurrence of this infection is common throughout life. RSV in older children and adults is usually an upper respiratory tract infection; It can develop serious lower respiratory tract infections in infants and young children, premature infants, immunocompromised and elderly people. 35-50% of lower respiratory tract (bronchitis and pneumonia) infections in babies younger than six months develop due to the RSV virus. It was found that 10% of the children who died after lower respiratory tract infection had a history of heart disease, 5.5% chronic lung disease and 4.5% premature birth. It can cause exacerbation of asthma and other chronic lung diseases. Premature birth, congenital heart disease and immunodeficiency are conditions that increase the risk of RSV infection and cause a severe and fatal course.


Rsv (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) symptoms

While RSV causes complaints similar to flu and flu symptoms, it causes restlessness, lack of feeding, frequent breathing or respiratory irregularities in premature babies or babies, but the only source of the virus is humans. It is quickly transmitted from the environment or from those who exhibit these findings nearby. While the transmission of the RSV virus occurs through direct and close contact with infected secretions, the virus can survive for hours on the surrounding surfaces and for more than half an hour on the hands. The diagnosis of RSV infection is made by looking at the RSV antigen in respiratory tract secretions. This is a widely used, fast and 90% accurate method. RSV virus is usually seen in the form of annual outbreaks in the winter and early spring months. The disease usually begins in November-December, reaches a peak in January and February, and ends at the end of April.


RSV treatment

RSV infections are especially severe in infants and elderly people with sensitive age groups and especially in those with underlying diseases. Since oral intake will be impaired in these patients, supportive therapy is the first treatment in the disease. It may be necessary to replace fluid loss, careful evaluation of breathing, and oxygen support, upper respiratory tract aspiration, and if necessary, attachment to the respirator. If ear inflammation or bacterial lung infection develops after RSV bronchitis, antibiotics are used, other than this, there is no antibiotic effect. Follow-up with hospitalization is a common practice in severe cases. Hospitalization is recommended especially for babies under 6 months of age in case of diagnosis.


Is it possible to be protected from Rsv?

Supporting breast milk, preventing smoking exposure, standard infection control measures, determining risk groups, avoiding crowded environments, complying with the routine vaccination program, rapid detection of new cases in the hospital and contact isolation, protection from RSV is essential. The disease is transmitted by touching surfaces contaminated with respiratory secretions or by coughing airborne droplets. Limiting contact with the sick person, use of masks and hand washing can reduce the spread.

There is no routine vaccine available for RSV; However, there is a drug called Palivizumab (RSV monoclonal antibody), which contains passive immunization, RSV antibody, that is used only with the recommendation of a specialist and issuing a report in order to prevent lower respiratory tract infection in high-risk premature babies born younger than 29 weeks and children with congenital heart disease or chronic lung disease.

Passive immunization, that is, antibody administration once a month (palivizumab) is recommended for high risk babies to be protected from RSV virus. Patients who need passive immunization are:

• Babies less than 29 weeks and less than 1 year of gestation
• Babies under 2 years of age with chronic lung disease
• Babies younger than 2 years old with heart disease that requires treatment

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