Big news about RSV
Last November I wrote an article about Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV. I never imagined that one year later I would get to revisit RSV and share about a dramatic change in the field of pediatrics: a new treatment available to all babies to prevent RSV bronchiolitis – a common and sometimes serious illness.
It is hard to overstate how much RSV infection impacts kids in the fall and winter months. According to the CDC, every year in the U.S. there are about 2 million clinic visits and about 70,000 hospitalizations for RSV in kids under five years old. It defines winter for pediatricians. Every coughing, runny-nosed patient who comes to the clinic between October and April we have to consider might have RSV. For many kids, especially those outside of infancy, the infection often feels like a cold and symptoms last a week or two. But RSV can be a serious disease for premature babies, any baby under one year old, and kids with chronic diseases. Sometimes, for kids to get enough fluids or if they need oxygen, hospitalization is required. In serious cases, sometimes intubation is needed.
So, RSV is a common and sometimes very serious infection. Despite that, there has been no way to prevent it other than the usual cold prevention methods: washing hands, avoiding touching faces, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding being around sick people and being around people when you are sick. Until now.
Starting this month, a preventive antibody treatment for RSV is now available for all babies. It is called Beyfortus (Nirsevimab is the medical name) and it is a one-dose shot that gives babies antibodies to RSV that help their bodies fight the infection. It makes it less likely for a baby to get very sick from RSV and need to be admitted to the hospital. For Native American kids, it is given from October through March to babies that are less than 20 months old. The Southern Ute Health Clinic has Beyfortus doses. You can call 970-563-4581 to make an appointment for your child to get a dose or if you have questions and want to talk more about it.
This year there is also a new RSV vaccine for pregnant women delivering their baby between October and March and an RSV vaccine for people 60 and older. Talk with your provider if you are interested in either of these.
For information, check out RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) | CDC or RSV: When It’s More Than Just a Cold – HealthyChildren.org.