RS Virus: Understanding Symptoms, Risks, and Vaccination Options for Children

2023-09-23 13:46:19

Runny nose, cough, difficulty breathing: In the fall, infections with the RS virus increase. The respiratory disease is particularly dangerous for infants and young children.

BILD explains what parents need to know now.

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What is the RS virus?

The respiratory syncytial virus is a pathogen that causes respiratory infections, usually from November to April. It is transmitted via droplet infection. The symptoms are cough, runny nose and fever, which often cause bronchitis, bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small bronchi) or pneumonia.

Is it dangerous?

Infections with the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are usually harmless in adults. But: An illness can be life-threatening, especially for infants and small children. Many children of one or two years old are currently affected who – also in view of the corona pandemic and the measures taken against it – have not yet had any contact with RSV.

How do I detect the RS virus?

It is not easy to distinguish an RS infection from other respiratory infections. An infection is therefore usually recognized by a doctor or determined by pathogen detection (e.g. PCR test). The virus usually causes cold-like symptoms. Runny nose, dry cough, sneezing, sore throat, weakness, lack of feeling of hunger and thirst.

If the course is more severe, fever, breathing problems such as rattling noises and heavy, rapid breathing can occur. The children sometimes also have dry, cold and pale skin, and babies have a sunken fontanelle in the first year and a half of life.

Is there a vaccination?

Until now, small, high-risk patients whose lives were in danger could be passively immunized. This means they are injected with antibodies. Since these only remain in the blood for around 20 days, they must be administered monthly over the critical period.

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However, two RSV vaccines were recently approved in the EU – although not for children. They are for people aged 60 and over or pregnant women. The idea: The immune protection is passed on to the infant. However, there is currently no recommendation from the Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) on the new vaccines in Germany.

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