Respiratory syncytial virus treatment approved 1:31

(CNN Español) -- With the arrival of the winter season in Mexico, respiratory diseases begin to appear more consistently in the country.

These diseases include, of course, COVID-19 and influenza, but other respiratory viruses that cause different infections also circulate in the environment, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

The National Committee for Epidemiological Surveillance (Conave) of the Government of Mexico reported in its most recent epidemiological advisory that, from the beginning of October to November 14, "an increase in cases of other respiratory viruses was observed, with a predominance of RSV from the beginning of the seasonal season."

In the aforementioned period, 456 cases have been confirmed in the country within the group of other respiratory viruses (or OVR, where influenza and covid-19 are excluded), of which 288 (63% of the total) are cases of RSV, demonstrating its predominance in RVOs.

Of the 288 confirmed cases of RSV, 94% (271) required hospitalization.

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Although cases are not massive and most people recover within a week or two, RSV infection is a matter of concern because, among other things, "it is the most frequent viral cause of (...) hospitalization in infants (up to 2 years of age) worldwide," according to Conave.

  • When to seek medical attention if your child has respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)?

What is respiratory syncytial virus?

The Conave indicates that RSV is an RNA virus. Viruses with RNA as their genetic material, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mutate faster than viruses with DNA, which can lead to faster alterations and spread.

RSV is also a virus that can cause cold-like symptoms and poses a greater threat to infants.

"RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms and is the most frequent viral cause of bronchiolitis, pneumonia and lower respiratory tract infection and hospitalization in infants worldwide," CONAVE adds.

As of November 14, the age groups with the most RSV cases and hospitalizations due to this virus in Mexico are:

  • Ages 1 to 4
  • Children under 1 year old
  • Ages 5 to 9

Symptoms

According to Conave, RSV infection occurs from person to person through respiratory droplets; For example, when you talk near someone who is infected and you inhale the respiratory droplets they expel when they speak.

In addition, it is also possible to be infected by touching infected hands or objects by the sick person.

Symptoms of RSV include:

  • Rhinorrhea (nasal congestion)
  • Reduced appetite
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Wheezing (hissing and squealing sound during breathing)

In babies 6 months and younger, symptoms may include:

  • Irritability
  • Less activity
  • Shortness of breath
  • Reduced fluid and food intake
  • Apnea (interruption of breathing when sleeping)

El Conave explains that symptoms usually appear in phases and not all at once. Meanwhile, he mentions that not all RSV infections include a fever.

Symptoms begin to appear four to six days after infection; However, if you do get infected, you can infect someone else as early as a day or two before your symptoms begin.

"Some infants and people with weakened immune systems may continue to spread the virus even after they stop showing symptoms, for up to 4 weeks," the committee adds.

Treatment

U.S. Mulls Approval of New Treatment for Respiratory Syncytial Virus 1:24

The CDC says antiviral drugs are not recommended "as routine treatment" for infections such as RSV.

"Most RSV infections go away on their own within a week or two. However, some people can get very sick from RSV," the CDC explains.

Over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used to combat fever and pain.

Before giving any over-the-counter medication to children, a doctor should be consulted. The CDC emphasizes that aspirin should never be given to children.

As with other respiratory infections, it is of utmost importance to drink enough fluids to relieve symptoms and prevent dehydration.

Infants, young children, and older adults with RSV are at increased risk for severe illness, which would result in infections such as "bronchiolitis, which is inflammation of the small airways of the lung, and pneumonia, which is an infection of the lungs," the CDC says.

"Some people infected with RSV, especially older adults and infants younger than 6 months, may be hospitalized if they become dehydrated or have difficulty breathing. In more severe cases, a person may need oxygen, or intravenous fluids (if they can't eat or drink enough), or intubation (insertion of a breathing tube through the mouth into the windpipe) with mechanical ventilation (a machine to help breathe). In most cases, hospitalization only lasts a few days," they add.

Respiratory syncytial viruses