The increase in cases of respiratory illnesses in children that are flooding the pediatric emergency rooms of some hospitals is mainly due to the respiratory syncytial virus. The Spanish Society of Pneumology and Thoracic Surgery (SEPAR) and the Spanish Society of Pediatric Pneumology (SENP) propose four simple measures to prevent the spread of RSV, which causes bronchiolitis and pneumonia.
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Respiratory syncytial virus is a common pathogen that usually appears in late fall and causes cold-like symptoms, such as cough, runny nose, or fever. However, especially in children under one year old, it usually causes a greater impact, the symptoms – which usually last 5 to 7 days – get worse and, therefore, it is necessary to take measures to prevent them from deriving into bronchiolitis or pneumonia
2% of children under the age of one who present it have to be admitted to hospital. Children under 6 months and especially 3 months have a higher risk of having a serious condition and being admitted to the ICU.
Due to the use of masks and social distancing due to covid-19, this pathogen has circulated much less in the last two autumn and winter seasons, so this year it has a greater incidence, which it has been reflected in a great demand for emergencies, both in health centers and in Spanish hospitals.
“Today, thanks to vaccines to prevent COVID-19 – explains the doctor Antonio Moreno- we have taken off our masks, which has been very positive. However, in the face of any cold symptoms, it is important to use them again, since during the last two seasons the RSV has not circulated, which has meant that there is a greater impact on minors.’
The measures proposed by the doctors
SEPAR and SENP propose 4 measures to prevent the spread of respiratory syncytial virus and prevent bronchiolitis and pneumonia:
- Masks in over 6 years old with symptoms. It is recommended that children older than 6 years with respiratory symptoms wear a mask.
- Respect social distance in case of symptoms. Whenever an adult or a child has respiratory symptoms, the distance of 1.5 meters must be respected.
- No visits to babies under three months old in case of symptoms. It is important to avoid visits to children under three months of age if any type of symptom is present. In addition, parents who show any symptoms must wear a mask and take extreme hygiene measures (such as washing their hands) before touching their children. It is also advisable to minimize the contact of cold siblings with babies.
- Not attending nursery schools or schools. Nursery schools and schools are usually one of the places where most contagions are carried out, therefore, in the face of any respiratory or catarrhal symptoms of minors, they should not attend nursery schools and schools, especially in this time of risk elevated
“As a society we must take care of the health of young children. The joint proposal of SEPAR and the SENP is simple, but efficient. We understand that we must all be aware of it and act accordingly”, just as was done in the covid pandemic to protect the elderly”, says the doctor Verónica Sanz, coordinator of the Pediatric Pneumology Area of SEPAR.